More jobs could be created through historically African-American land-grant universities, through a new program announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday.
The government will provide funding for business development assistance to entrepreneurs, agribusinesses, cooperatives and communities in economically challenged rural areas which house historically African-American land-grant universities.
The assistance is provided through cooperative agreements with 10 1890 land-grant universities, or institutions that have been designated by its state legislature or Congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.
Under the Act, each state received a total 30,000 acres of federal land to teach branches of learning related to agriculture or mechanic arts.
The institutions plan to use the funding from the USDA Rural Development Department to cultivate new business opportunities and create jobs through entrepreneurial training, business start-up assistance, website development training and renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, among others.
The 10 schools, each receiving a $75,000 grant, are:
Alabama A&M University; Delaware State University; Florida A&M University; Fort Valley State University (Georgia); Langston University (Oklahoma); North Carolina A&T State University; Southern University and A&M College (Louisiana); University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff; University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and West Virginia State University.
"These 1890 institutions have some of the best agricultural science and business education programs in the nation," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "They also have the capacity and expertise to help small and emerging rural businesses develop income-producing projects."
Delaware State University's Delaware Center for Enterprise Development plans to use the funds to increase the capacity of limited-resource farmers and other rural entrepreneurs to develop and use renewable energy.
The only Black University in Oklahoma, Langston University, will use the funds to provide entrepreneurship training to poverty stricken youth in rural communities who are plagued by unemployment. They also plan to deliver one-on-one business management assistance.
The USDA hopes to use the projects to increase employment and income opportunities for rural Americans, a priority of both the Obama Administration and the USDA.
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