'A sweet project'
Winnebago Tribe secures grants to help small businesses and open new marketThe Winnebago Tribe’s efforts improve the health of residents on its northeast Nebraska reservation got a significant boost recently when the tribe won a $213,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development grant. The tribe also has applied for another grant that would cover the remaining costs for an indoor farmers’ market that it plans to build that will provide food and other vendors a place to sell their products. The USDA grant will allow the tribe to support the establishment of small food-related businesses, such as small farmers, value-added food producers, traditional artisans, crafters and service vendors. The grant also will help the tribe to connect those small business owners with loan capital, business planning and technical assistance. Those small business owners then likely would use the indoor farmers’ market to sell their products, said Brian Mathers, executive director of the Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation (HCCDC), which is a nonprofit affiliated with the Winnebago Tribe. “When you think about all the things to build a local food economy, there are many, many pieces of that,” he said.
The Village Market will provide vendors – many of whom currently set up along roadsides in Winnebago and sell everything from sweet corn and popcorn to jewelry and crafts – greater access to customers. Mathers said HoChunk Harvest and Village Market are becoming high-profile projects for funders and others seeking to improve the health of Native people. “This is a sweet project to a lot of people,” he said. “It hits a lot of hot buttons.”
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