USDA grant funds mobile classroom for businesses

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 14, 2005

Louisiana State University’s mobile classroom may be traveling soon to a town near you, thanks to a $135,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development.

With the money, LSU’s Business and Technology Center will equip a mobile classroom vehicle that will travel to 37 parishes, including Concordia.

There, it will provide technical assistance and training for small and emerging businesses.

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The mobile classroom should start making its stops in October, said Charles F. D’Agostino, executive director of the Louisiana Business and Technology Center at LSU’s E. J. Ourso College of Business.

D’Agostino said this is the first time such a vehicle has been used to conduct Rural Development training.

&uot;That’s why USDA funding this &045; because it was such a novel approach,&uot; he said.

Michael Taylor, Rural Development state director and a Catahoula Parish native, said businesses in rural areas are often at a disadvantage because those in urban areas have more access to technology and educational support.

&uot;We have a lot of smart and creative minds in our rural communities, but they might not have the Š technology,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;We’re bringing the program to rural areas so they can have the same opportunities.

&uot;It’s just another tool to be used to further the economy in our rural communities.&uot;

The USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program helps public bodies, private non-profit corporations, and federally-recognized Indian tribal groups support the development of small and emerging private business enterprises in rural areas.