USDA Announces Pilot Program to Increase Homeownership Opportunities on Native Lands Department is Partnering with Native Community Development Financial Institutions

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is launching a pilot program to increase homeownership opportunities on Tribal lands.

“To thrive, rural America needs a creative and forward-thinking partner in USDA,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, USDA is harnessing innovation so we can be a better, more effective partner to Tribal communities in building their futures.”

USDA is partnering with two Native Community Development Financial Institutions (NCDFIs) that have extensive experience working in Native American communities. The Department will loan $800,000 each to Mazaska Owecaso Otipit Financial and to Four Bands Community Fund. The organizations will relend the money to eligible homebuyers for mortgages on South Dakota and some North Dakota Tribal trust lands. Mazaska Owecaso Otipit Financial and Four Bands Community Fund also will service the mortgage loans after they are made. USDA is providing the funding through the Single Family Housing Direct Loan program.

Each NCDFI will contribute $200,000 for mortgages in the pilot program.

USDA has helped nearly 4 million rural residents purchase homes since passage of the Housing Act of 1949. However, homeownership rates on Tribal lands historically have been significantly lower than those for other communities.

Both NCDFIs have deep ties to the local communities and will be able to reach potential homebuyers more effectively than USDA and other lenders. Mazaska Owecaso Otipit Financial is located on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and creates homeownership opportunities for the members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Four Bands Community Fund, headquartered in Eagle Butte, S.D., provides financial products to businesses as well as home mortgages in South Dakota and North Dakota. Part of its service area includes the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.

The pilot program will begin this summer. USDA Rural Development’s state office in Huron, S.D., will oversee the initiative.

In April 2017, The President established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

PHILIP HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS WIN TRIP TO WASHINGTON, DC IN NATIONAL STOCK MARKET GAME COMPETITION

South Dakota’s Philip High School finished in 6th place in the 15th Annual Capitol Hill Challenge (CHC) national program and wins an all-expenses paid trip to Washington DC for the teacher and students on the winning team. 3,374 teams representing senators and congressional representatives nationwide participated in the 14 week competition. Philip High School was matched with Senator Mike Rounds.  The top 10 winning teams and their teachers will be recognized at an Awards Reception on June 13 at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.

The Top 10 Schools and their Congressional representatives:

  1. Redan High School                                GA       Senator Johnny Isakson
  2. Albany High School                               CA       Rep. Barbara Lee
  3. Glacier Peak High School                      WA      Senator Maria Cantwell

4.    Waterford High School                          WI       Rep. Paul Ryan
5.    Simsbury High School                            CT       Senator Chris Murphy
6.   Philip High School                                SD       Senator Mike Rounds
7.    Granada Hills Charter High School         CA       Rep. Brad Sherman
8.    Canyonville Christian Academy              OR       Rep. Peter DeFazio
9.    Lewisburg High School                           PA       Senator Robert Casey Jr.
10.  Battle Mountain High School                  NV      Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Philip High School teacher Brigitte Bruchlacher participated in the program with her Family & Consumer Sciences class.  Her student team of Dyson Schofield and Hunter Peterson, both juniors, finished with a final portfolio of $ 115, 322.  Their big winner was the purchase of Solar Edge Technologies (SEDG) that increased 85 % over 14 weeks.  “Philip High School is the first South Dakota school to place in the CDC top 10 nationally and that is quite an impressive accomplishment considering that there were nearly 3,400 teams competing from all 50 states,” said Professor Don Altmyer, South Dakota Stock Market Game Coordinator and Director for the BHSU Center for Economic Education.

The CHC organizes teams of middle and high school students by congressional district for each state and teaches the importance of saving and investing, while simultaneously promoting a better understanding of our government. Teams invest a hypothetical $100,000 for a 14 week time period in listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds and learn the value of the capital markets as they work together to maximize the return of their portfolios.

Since the Capitol Hill Challenge began in 2004, the program has made more than 4,100 matches of U.S. representatives and senators with schools, reaching more than 115,000 students. Middle and high school students from all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia are participating in this year’s competition.  The CHC competition is sponsored by the SIFMA Foundation for Investor Education.

“Capitol Hill Challenge provides critical educational experiences to young people across America, enabling students who otherwise might not be exposed to the capital markets to gain insights that lead to their success,” said Melanie Mortimer, president of the SIFMA Foundation. “Capitol Hill Challenge students experience the positive compounding effect of understanding from an early age how finance, civics and government touch their lives.”

The competition uses the SIFMA Foundation’s curriculum-based Stock Market Game to help students develop a better understanding of the global economy, become college and career ready, and improve their knowledge of math, economics, and business. The program is proven to raise student scores on tests of mathematics, economics and financial knowledge. It is also proven to positively impact students’ and teachers’ personal financial behavior.

Founded in 1977 by academics at Buffalo State, The Stock Market Game has since expanded through a national network of educational nonprofit organizations to reach 17 million students. An independent study by Learning Point Associates found that students who participated in the Stock Market Game scored significantly higher on mathematics and financial literacy tests than their peers who did not participate. They also found that teachers who taught the Stock Market Game reported that the program motivated them to better plan for their own financial futures. The Stock Market Game has been named the only program that successfully increased scores on the Jumpstart Coalition’s test of high school students’ financial literacy.

The Capitol Hill Challenge is just one component of the Stock Market Game, which operates in all 50 states. The program has significant benefits including professional development opportunities for teachers, teamwork and confidence building for students, and reinforcement of students’ technology and online research skills (the trading simulation is online). The program improves students’ and teachers’ financial knowledge and behavior and fulfills national standards and state-level subject matter requirements in ELA, Math, Social Studies, Business, Economics, Technology, and Consumer Science.

The dates for the Fall 2018 South Dakota Stock Market Game are: October 1 to Dec 7 and for the Spring 2019 Game: February 11 to April 8.  To learn more about the South Dakota Stock Market Game program, visit www.stockmarketgame.org or contact Professor Don Altmyer, South Dakota Stock Market Game Coordinator at donaltmyer@bhsu.edu

U.S. Department of Commerce Initiates Section 232 Investigation into Auto Imports

 

Today, following a conversation with President Donald J. Trump,  U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross initiated an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended.  The investigation will determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security as defined in Section 232.  Secretary Ross sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis informing him of the investigation.

“There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” said Secretary Ross. “The Department of Commerce will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent investigation into whether such imports are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security.”

During the past 20 years, imports of passenger vehicles have grown from 32 percent of cars sold in the United States to 48 percent.   From 1990 to 2017, employment in motor vehicle production declined by 22 percent, even though Americans are continuing to purchase automobiles at record levels.  Now, American owned vehicle manufacturers in the United States account for only 20 percent of global research and development in the automobile sector, and American auto part manufacturers account for only 7 percent in that industry.

Automobile manufacturing has long been a significant source of American technological innovation. This investigation will consider whether the decline of domestic automobile and automotive parts production threatens to weaken the internal economy of the United States, including by potentially reducing research, development, and jobs for skilled workers in connected vehicle systems, autonomous vehicles, fuel cells, electric motors and storage, advanced manufacturing processes, and other cutting-edge technologies.

Following today’s announcement, the Department of Commerce will investigate these and other issues to determine whether imports of automobiles and automotive parts threaten to impair the national security.  A notice will be published shortly in the Federal Register announcing a hearing date and inviting comment from industry and the public to assist in the investigation.

Minority Business Development Agency Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) with a day-long celebration Tuesday, May 15 featuring remarks from White House officials, panels focused on supplier partnerships and procurement, as well as discussions on the successes and challenges for millennial Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).

Karen Dunn Kelley, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, performing the nonexclusive duties and functions of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce, delivered a keynote address at the 2018 National AAPI Business Summit that discussed the many contributions AAPI-owned businesses have made to the U.S. economy. Kelley noted that from 2007 to 2012, Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. increased 24 percent, while the number of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander-owned businesses expanded 45 percent.

“Secretary Ross and this administration believe minority-owned businesses play an important role in communities and in creating jobs and growth in the American economy,” Under Secretary Kelley said.

Under Secretary Kelley also highlighted two standout Asian-owned businesses supported by local MBDA business centers: Leasa Industries, a Miami-based bean sprout and tofu company, and Mellish Island, a sea cucumber processor and exporter to China with a U.S. headquarters in San Dimas, California.

After remarks from Holly Ham, Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Mercedes Schlapp, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor for Strategic Communication, MBDA National Acting Director Edith McCloud joined Ham on stage to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support and advocate for AAPI-owned businesses.

Two of the most notable Asian Americans serving in U.S. government also gave remarks at the National AAPI Business Summit: Elaine L. Chao, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and the highest-ranking Asian American cabinet member, and Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

MBDA closed out the National AAPI Business Summit with a celebration by celebrity Asian chefs. The aroma of Chinese, Filipino and Indonesian cuisine filled the air, as the Department of Commerce lobby transformed into a bustling food court. Chef Widjiono (Yono) Purnomo of Yono’s Restaurant in Albany, New York, Chefs Michael Chen and Rusong Dai of New China Taste in Alexandria, Virginia, and Chef Patrice Cleary of Purple Patch in Washington D.C., prepared sample dishes for attendees, showcasing a variety of Asian dishes.

From left to right: George Mui, MBDA, Chef Widjiono (Yono) Purnomo, Chef Patrice Cleary of Purple Patch, Jan-Ie Low, Golden Catalyst, LLC and Celebrity Chef event organizer, Chef Michael Chen and Chef Rusong Dai of New China Taste.

Federal Reserve Board issues Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households

The Federal Reserve Board’s latest Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Householdsfinds that economic well-being has generally improved over the past five years. The report notes that 74 percent of adults reported they were doing at least OK financially in 2017‑‑up 10 percentage points from the first survey in 2013. Even so, notable differences remain across race, ethnicity, education groups, and locations and many individuals still struggle to repay college loans, handle small emergency expenses, and manage retirement savings.

The report draws from the Board’s fifth annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED) and examines the economic well-being and financial lives of Americans and their families. In November and December 2017, more than 12,000 people participated in the survey. They described their experiences on a wide range of topics, including income, employment, unexpected expenses, banking and credit, housing, education, and retirement planning.

Among the new topics covered in this year’s report is the relationship between the opioid epidemic and local economic conditions. One in five adults personally knows someone who has been addicted to opioids, and those who do have somewhat less favorable assessments of economic conditions. Still, over half of adults exposed to opioid addiction say that their local economy is good or excellent, suggesting a role for factors beyond economic conditions in understanding the crisis.

“This year’s survey finds that rising levels of employment are translating into improved financial conditions for many but not all Americans, with one third now reporting they are living comfortably and another 40 percent reporting they are doing ok financially,” said Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard. “Even with the improvement in financial outlook, however, 40 percent still say they cannot cover a $400 emergency expense, or would do so by borrowing or selling something. We learned that about one in five adults knows someone with addiction to opioids or painkillers; whites are about twice as likely to have such exposure as blacks and Hispanics; and exposure does not vary much by education level or by local economic conditions.”

The Board’s SHED data looks at how individuals are managing their finances and making decisions vital to their financial lives and futures. Alongside the economic gains observed since the Great Recession, this report also notes challenges faced by people who are trying to piece together multiple jobs or who are struggling to establish emergency savings. The Board will continue to follow these developments.

Among the report’s other key findings:

  • Individuals of all education levels, races, and ethnicities have shared in the economic expansion over the past five years, although reported well-being remains lower for racial and ethnic minorities and those with less educational attainment
  • Most workers are satisfied with the wages and benefits from their current job and are optimistic about their future job opportunities. Even so, challenges including irregular job scheduling remain. One in six workers have irregular work schedules that they did not request, and one in ten receive their work schedule less than a week in advance
  • Many adults are struggling to save for retirement, and less than two-fifths believe that they are on track with their savings. While preparedness for retirement increases with age, concerns about inadequate savings are still common for those nearing retirement
  • Four in 10 adults, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would either not be able to cover it or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money. This is an improvement from half of adults in 2013 being ill-prepared for such an expense

Other data on urban and rural geographic differences and national and local views are also in the report. Survey data files from the report are available for download. The report, downloadable data, and a video summarizing the survey’s findings may be found at: https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/shed.htm.

New Funding Opportunity Announcement — Vulnerable Rural Hospitals Assistance Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy has a new program, the Vulnerable Rural Hospitals Assistance Program. This initiative will fund one entity up to $800,000 to provide targeted in-depth assistance to vulnerable rural hospitals struggling to maintain health care services with the goal for residents in those rural communities to continue to have access to essential health services. The awardee will work with individual hospitals and their communities on ways to understand community health needs and resources and find ways to ensure communities can keep needed care locally.

Eligible applicants include domestic public or private, non-profit entities. Domestic faith-based and community-based organizations, tribes, and tribal organizations are also eligible to apply. This eligible applicant (VRHAP recipient) will provide targeted technical assistance to selected rural hospitals in need. Rural hospitals are eligible to receive targeted assistance from the VRHAP recipient. For this cooperative agreement, “rural hospitals” are defined as short-term, non-federal general facilities located outside Metropolitan Core-Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs), or located within Metropolitan areas in locations with Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) codes of four (4) or greater, or facilities in any location participating in Medicare as Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs). Hospitals operated by tribes and tribal organizations under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638, as amended) are also eligible.

Applications are due July 16. If you have any questions about this program, please contact Suzanne Stack: sstack@hrsa.gov.

TRUMP PERSONALLY PUSHED POSTMASTER GENERAL MEGAN BRENNAN TO DOUBLE RATES ON AMAZON

President Trump personally urged the leader of the U.S. Postal Service to double the rates the agency charges Amazon and other firms for delivery packages in several private conversations in 2017 and 2018..

The Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, responded that the arrangements are bound by contracts and reviewed by an independent commission. She also argued to Trump the arrangements have benefits for the financially beleaguered Postal Service.

Trump has repeatedly accused the Postal Service of subsidizing Amazon, whose chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.  Read more »

Sustainable Light Industrial Campus (SLICe) To Hold Open House and “Ribbon Slicing”

Custer, SD – My team of partners and investors would like to extend a heartfelt thank
you to the Governor’s Office, SD Public and School Lands, the Governor’s Office of Economic
Development and the Custer Area Economic Development Corporation. Without their assistance and
information, we could not have completed this task.

We would like to announce that SLIC-e and the State have closed on the property, and SLIC-e’s
excitement to dig into the hard work ahead of us. To celebrate that, we are having an open house and
ribbon “slicing” on Friday, May 18 at 10 am. Tours and refreshments will be available on site (12279
Brady Dr, Custer, SD 57730).

As the changes to this property take place over the coming year, we believe that the Custer area
residents will be pleased with its low environmental impact, innovative technology, beauty and, most
importantly, the jobs created. This will be a low impact, highly sustainable, light industrial campus that
makes use of cutting-edge technology to introduce new industries to our area, while also providing
much-needed space for commercial and light industrial concerns in the community. This will take the
form of a leased-space business park for businesses and other projects in the start-up, growth, R&D, or
maintenance phases.

As we finalize leasing contracts with tenants, we will announce those new additions to the Southern
Hills. In the meantime, we need to roll up our sleeves and begin the next stages of our operation.

Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who made the previous stage possible. Thank you for all that you
have done up to this point, and all you will be doing over the next year. I’d also like to thank the
community for your undying support of local initiatives and businesses. You make all things possible
here in Custer

SLICe
Sustainable Light Industrial Campus
17 N 5th Street
Custer, SD 57730SLIC
Jared Carson, President
605-517-2049
605-673-3003

Tourism to Mount Rushmore Adds 177 Million to Local Economy

Keystone, South Dakota In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week Mount Rushmore National Memorial reveals data from a new National Park Service report which shows that over 2.4 million visitors to Mount Rushmore in 2017 spent an estimated $139 million in local communities.  Spending that supported 2,140 jobs in the area and had a cumulative benefit of $177 million to the local economy.

“Doane Robinson to Gutzon Borglum to today Mount Rushmore National Memorial has long served as an active member in the tourism economy of our local communities,” stated Superintendent Cheryl Schreier.  “National Park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.  We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.  The report shows $18.2 billion of direct spending by more than 330 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park.  This spending supported 306,000 jobs nationally; 255,900 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities.  The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $35.8 billion.

The lodging sector received the highest direct contributions with $5.5 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 49,000 jobs.  The restaurants sector received the next greatest direct contributions with $3.7 billion in economic output to local gateway economies and 60,500 jobs.

According to the 2017 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging/camping (32.9 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.5 percent), gas and oil (12.1 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (10.1 percent), admissions and fees (10.0 percent), and local transportation (7.5 percent).

Report authors also produced an interactive tool that enables users to explore visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies.  Users can also view year-by-year trend data.  The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/s ocialscience/vse.htm.  To learn more about national parks in South Dakota and how the National Park Service works with South Dakota communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go tohttps://www.nps.gov/state/sd.

For additional park information, please visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial’s official website at www.nps.gov/moru.

Net Neutrality Needs Bipartisan Legislation, Not More Political Theater

BY U.S. Senator John Thune

I support net neutrality. I support rules that prevent blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of internet traffic. I believe these principles should guide us on Capitol Hill as we work to expand broadband access to even the most remote and rural areas of the country.

You might be surprised to learn that most of my fellow senators believe this too.

Unfortunately, manufactured controversy often gets more attention in Washington than real solutions. We have seen this in recent months as some in Congress and outside groups have shaped an ominous narrative surrounding the way we regulate the internet.

The internet is too important for partisan politics. Congress must codify widely accepted net neutrality protections through bipartisan legislation.

Instead of crafting forward-looking solutions that protect internet users and promote innovation, however, Congress will spend time on more political theater.

Rather than voting for 21st Century rules to protect the internet, we’ll be taking a show vote on whether to look backwards and re-apply rules meant for the old Ma’ Bell phone system to the modern internet.

This is a mistake, and only delays concrete protections for a free and open internet.

The misguided decision to apply regulations created in 1934 for voice telephone services to the internet—adopted on a party-line vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015—has, according to the FCC, slowed investment, preventing the improvement and expansion of services to the 39 million Americans living in rural parts of the country.

The uncertainty in the future of regulation, caused by the ever-shifting political winds, means investments to connect more Americans in states like South Dakota are likely to remain stagnant.

It doesn’t have to be this way. For years, I have called for bipartisan legislation—by elected representatives, not unelected bureaucrats at the FCC—that would permanently ban blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization by broadband internet providers.

The new leadership of the FCC has given us an opportunity to do just that, by freeing the internet from outdated, monopoly-era regulations.

If the Democrats are serious about long-term protections for consumers, they should look ahead towards a bipartisan solution, rather than looking backwards and trying to reverse the current FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

Claims that this order would mean slower internet speeds have already been rebutted in a recent independent fact check.

The bottom line is, Congress should be spending time on a permanent solution that is not subject to Washington power shakeups—one that will spur all communities into the 21st Century and encourage a new wave of American innovation and competitiveness.

Regardless of how the Senate votes this month, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) effort will not provide Americans with lasting protections for the internet. If anything, the tempest over the CRA has stalled conversations among legislators on both sides of the aisle who have demonstrated eagerness to come together and find a bipartisan solution.

Once the latest showdown is over, we should set aside the fear mongering and manufactured hand-wringing and get to work on a solution that ends this debate and protects the economic engine of the internet for generations of Americans to come.