Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on June 30 the selection of 44 community-based organizations to receive funding to promote economic growth. The funding is being provided through the Rural Community Development Initiative Program (RCDI).  RCDI helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. “These funds support USDA’s partnership with rural America to bring increased economic opportunity to rural citizens and communities,” Vilsack said. “They will serve as investments that will help organizations build the capacity and expertise of local businesses, business owners and nonprofit groups.”

Ravalli County Economic Development Authority will receive $175,105 to support the Montana Arts Council’s development of a three-year job skills program. The three-year program will provide market-readiness training and market opportunities for Montana artists who wish to increase their income through the sale of their artwork. 

The arts council’s work centers around the Montana Artrepreneur  Program (MAP) developed by the arts council’s Folk Art and Market Development Specialist Cindy Kittredge (email: or phone 406.468.4078).  The program guides visual artists living in rural areas and Indian artists living on and off the reservations through developing a toolkit of resources to get their work market ready, and into more markets.

The grant will also fund the creation of a network of trainers located throughout the state who will teach the MAP curriculum to various cohorts of artists. This work will begin in four communities and their surrounding areas: Chester, Columbia Falls, Hamilton and Hardin. Interested artists may also contact Cinda Holt, Business Development Specialist for the Montana Arts Council at  or 406.777.0090.

Call the RCEDA Office at 406.375.9416 or email RCEDA General Information