USDA BEST Grant #1

BEST GRANT #1 – Oct. 2018 – June 2020

  • Awarded a grand total of $78,000 
    • $68,000 of the total was from the federal government 
    • $10,000 of the total was from local funds 

The ECI Regional Planning District applied for a Rural Business Development Grant from Rural Development—an agency of the USDA—to fund the BEST Program. 

The East Central Indiana Business Enterprise Services and Training (BEST) Program provided needed training and technical assistance, including project planning, business counseling/training, market research, feasibility studies, professional/technical reports, or product/service improvements to businesses located in rural areas throughout the region. 

The project was centrally located at ECIRPD’s headquarters in Muncie but leveraged ECIRPD’s relationships with its rural partner municipalities to offer training, workshops, and other events throughout the identified rural areas in the region. 

The Rural Business Development Grant funds were used to hire additional staff at ECI that provided the needed training and technical assistance services that businesses in the region were lacking. While ECIRPD leadership has the knowledge and expertise needed, the additional capacity was required to meet the demand from local businesses. 

The BEST Project was administered by Brad Bookout, the Director of Economic Development and Redevelopment, in conjunction with Bill Walters, the Executive Director. Ted Baker, Executive Director of the Innovation Connector, served as a Business Services Consultant for the project.