Washington State’s USDA Rural Enterprise Grant

How does it work?

  • Surveys agricultural firms across 10 rural Washington counties to develop a needed list of course topics for the agricultural industry.
  • Enhances productivity of manufacturing workers through the availability of targeted industry online training.
  • Develops a central and easily accessible listing of online courses from Washington State’s public community and technical college system.
  • Helps spur the creation of additional agricultural-focused online courses.
  • Boosts company profitability through strategic consulting.
  • Helps manufacturers solve supply chain challenges to better compete for domestic and global customers through an asset map survey.

How is it funded?

The Center of Excellence for Global Trade & Supply Chain Management, Impact Washington, and the Workforce Board were awarded $84,500 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund the “Focus on Washington’s Agriculture Sector” grant. The grant starts September 30, 2016 and runs for a year.

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To learn more about the partnership, partners, projects, or results, contact us.

The Challenge

Too often, manufacturers in rural communities go it alone – from growing their business, to training their employees, to marketing their products. Access to business assistance is limited by distance, lack of connections, and uncertainty about operations and needs.

The Answer

Washington’s Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board was awarded an $84,500 one-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to survey agricultural-related firms in 10 rural Washington counties. The grant runs through the summer of 2017.

Agricultural firms will be asked:

  • Do they have sufficient educational resources for employees?
  • What types of skills training and classes would they like to see?

Available courses will be compiled and placed on a single webpage for agricultural firms to easily access. This is expected to lead to more college-level training opportunities through a partnership with the state’s Centers of Excellence, coordinated through Highline College’s Center of Excellence for Global Trade & Supply Chain Management.

Identifying & Mapping Existing Ag Manufacturers

The grant also provides funding to Impact Washington, the state’s manufacturing extension partner that offers supply chain consulting and lean training. Impact Washington will continue a project begun under another federal grant to build an asset map of Washington manufacturers.

Make it in WA Laid Groundwork for Ag Grant

The Make it in Washington grant through the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal partners laid the groundwork for the U.S.D.A. Rural Enterprise grant that targets the education needs of rural agricultural firms. The Make it in Washington grant is in its final year. The Workforce Board is overseeing the education component of this $2.7 million grant that helps small to mid-sized rural manufacturing businesses across Washington connect with tuition-funded worker training through online college coursework. The grant also funds business assessments and asset mapping by Impact Washington so the state knows where manufacturers are located, what they produce, and identifies their workforce needs.

Program Reaches Rural Communities

This project’s concept, program, and deliverables are unique among the entire group of Make it in America and Jobs Accelerator federal grant recipients. It provides a strong partnership model for a more complete economic development system that works in a large geographic region to deliver cutting-edge services to the most rural communities.

Statewide Results To-Date

  • Partnership is actively working in 31 eligible counties covering over 71,000 square miles across Washington.
  • Over 700 businesses surveyed.
  • Over 200 businesses have participated in outreach activities.
  • Currently 110 students enrolled. Half are enrolled in undergraduate programs at Highline College, Shoreline Community College, and Washington State University (WSU), and half are participating in graduate programs at WSU.
  • Real-time data on industry location, sector, employment, skill needs, product, and market details.