|MARCH 31, 2010 --
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $207,000 in grants for Connecticut business development and resource preservation.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said over the weekend at Yale that the financial support is part of the agency's Rural Business Enterprise Grant program.
It is meant to spur economic development and protect natural resources in the Quinebaug and Shetucket River Valley. They comprise what the National Park Service calls the "last green valley'' in the Boston-Washington corridor -- 695,000 acres of fields, forests and rugged hills in Connecticut's northeast corner.
Nonprofit The Last Green Valley Inc. is getting a $28,000 grant to create a website to help farmers locate educational information, business assistance and marketing opportunities. The organization also is getting a second $28,000 grant to create a "mastering the business of agriculture" educational program where farmers will receive classroom instruction on how to create effective business plans.
In addition, the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Education Foundation is to receive a $30,000 grant to renovate a historic diner in Torrington. The building will be converted into a tourism and business center for the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. An additional $308,000 will be leveraged from other sources for the renovation project, the USDA said.
Two other Connecticut organizations will get funding: The Northeast Connecticut Economic Alliance, serving 21 towns in the northeast corner, will receive a $40,000 grant to help firms that unable to secure credit.
Finally, the Eastern Connecticut Resource Conservation and Development Area Inc. got a pair of grants totaling $81,000.
The organization will use $41,000 to help a Stafford Springs slaughterhouse conduct an environmental quality analysis. The remaining funds will provide outreach and technical assistance to applicants for USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America program.