Grants help Faulk County, SD invest in brighter future

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

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Aberdeen News   |   By Scott Waltman

FAULK COUNTY — A $20,000 grant is the latest tool Faulk County leaders have tapped into to keep their part of South Dakota moving forward.

People working on the county's economic development push were awarded the grant from the Bush Foundation, a nonprofit agency that works to help sustain rural communities in the Dakotas and Minnesota.

The grant is to help the county make the most of its human, financial and political capital, said Joel Price, who has been involved in the grant process and the broader economic development effort. He's also the superintendent at Faulkton school.

Price said the grant money has to be used on five focuses, including:

• Create a community foundation that would benefit the Faulkton region.

• Improve housing in the community.

• Foster entrepreneurial growth.

• Enhance leadership.

• Improve the quality of life in the county.

If the community does a good job of meeting those goals, more grant money from the Bush Foundation might be available, Price said. The community would also have to raise $2,500 locally to potentially garner another $10,000 grant, Price said.

He said there are people working on each of the five focus areas. The Bush Foundation will measure the progress made in each area before deciding whether to provide more grant funding. But since people involved in the Faulk County revitalization effort helped set the criteria of the grant, they will be measured against their own standards, he said.

For instance, Price said, if Faulk County can establish a foundation to help foster further economic development, that would be achieving one of the goals. Local residents are working with the South Dakota Community Foundation to get it started, he said.

The Faulk County effort is a Bush Foundation pilot project, said Marita Price, Joel's wife, who attended a recent Faulkton City Council meeting to encourage town leaders to get involved with the economic development effort. She said she attended the meeting as a regular citizen, whereas her husband has long been involved in the community development push. If things go well, the foundation could decide to fund other similar efforts, she said.

She said there's only one other pilot project in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. That one's based in Brown County and is called Prairie Vision.

Marita Price didn't intend to get as involved as her husband. But when the Faulk County delegation needed somebody to attend a conference in Indianapolis as a prerequisite to getting the grant, she went because it was at the start of the school year.

The community revitalization group is trying to include folks from other towns in Faulk County, not just Faulkton, she said.

"I guess the biggest part that I'm just proud about is that we're trying to do this as a county," she said.

A thrust of the Bush Foundation grant is to develop leaders who can look at problems and find solutions, she said. Faulkton leaders started working toward procuring Bush Foundation grants in April, Joel Price said.

It's not the only grant the community has procured, he said. Community leaders got a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant to hire a economic development director. Stacy Hadrick started in the part-time post on Feb. 1. Before then, the person doing the work was a volunteer, Joel Price said.

Random good fortunate played a hand in the USDA grant. Joel Price said he went to an economic development meeting in Aberdeen in fall 2011 and heard that the grant was available. But the deadline to apply was later in the week. The Small Business Administration helped author the grant, and Grow South Dakota served as the fiscal agent. The application was finished before the deadline, and word came last fall that Faulkton was awarded the grant.

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