Open for Business Impact – Ethos Rehabilitation

Written By: Madison Wellman, Business Opportunity Specialist

Background: Jimmy Kakouris is a trained physical therapist from Boylston, Massachusetts. After years of experience in the field, Mr. Kakouris decided to open his own physical therapy practice, Ethos Rehabilitation. He approached Workers’ Credit Union – a partner in RCAP’s Open for Business Program – for start-up financing, but the business loan officers at the credit union did not have confidence in his plan. Instead of simply denying Mr. Kakouris financing, they referred him to RCAP to refine his business model.

The Challenge: Rural communities across the United States share a sense of underdeveloped entrepreneurial capacity. Lack of educational opportunities, poor connectivity infrastructure and a general absence of human capital capable of providing mentorship and expertise in the community all contribute to the high business failure rate in our nations small towns and villages. RCAP is striving to surmount these obstacles by delivering the absent human capital to rural communities in a cost-effective manner. In meeting this challenge, RCAP is building permanent entrepreneurial capacity in rural America.

The Approach & Solution: To rise to the challenge, RCAP launched the Open for Business program. The program delivers business expertise to rural communities through webinars, online workshops and one-on-one business consultations made available to entrepreneurs at no cost. All services are delivered remotely to reduce cost and maximize geographic reach. Jimmy Kakouris utilized this program to receive free guidance from RCAP’s experienced consultants. The RCAP consulting team worked with Mr. Kakouris to develop his business plan and financial projections to model his path to success. At the time of this writing, Mr. Kakouris received twenty-two hours of one-on-one consulting assistance.

Impact: RCAP’s professional consulting team was able to determine through financial modeling that Mr. Kakouris’ initial plan was not feasible. Specifically, the space that Mr. Kakouris wanted to lease for his physical therapy practice, while well-suited to the purpose, was far too expensive. Using IBUS data, the RCAP consulting team was able to model the revenues that Mr. Kakouris’ practice could expect in his market area. This financial model determined that Mr. Kakouris’ business would become insolvent in a matter of months – just as his lender feared. Once the initial plan was cast aside, Mr. Kakouris was able to work with the RCAP consulting team to develop a new strategy.

Today, Mr. Kakouris has a business plan that will provide a return on his investment, a budget for leased space that is appropriate for the Boylston, Massachusetts area, data-driven projections for his lenders and a professional marketing strategy – all of which cost him nothing but his time. If not for RCAP’s Open for Business Program, Mr. Kakouris would have never received financing, or worse, taken on debt for a plan that would have only succeeded in bankrupting him. In the case of Jimmy Kakouris and many other entrepreneurs around the country, bringing human capital to bear meant the difference between failure and success.

Gone to the Birds Gala

On September 18, 2014, RCAP Solutions Celebrated its 45th Anniversary by going to the birds! Over 250 attendees, made up of artists, business professionals, RCAP Solutions supporters and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce members participated in a birdhouse auction, hosted by Skinner Auctions. Over 100 works of art were auctioned, raising over $16,000. 100% of the proceeds will support housing and homelessness prevention programs for Worcester County families.

We thank the many generous sponsors, talented artists, and the staff and volunteers who donated their time and talents and helped to make this event a great success!

Photos by Andrea Seward, Habakkuk Media Services.

 

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Federal Report on Housing, Transportation and Economic Growth

report coverRCAP Solutions staff provided Technical Assistance to one of these projects in Washington County, Maine through a small national sub-agreement. These types of collaboration efforts reduce duplication of services.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 7, 2014

Federal Report Highlights Five Years of Progress Providing Communities with Affordable Housing, Efficient Transportation and Economic Growth

WASHINGTON – In celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released “Five Years of Learning from Communities and Coordinating Federal Investments,” a report demonstrating how the three agencies are cooperating to help communities provide more housing choices, make transportation systems more efficient and reliable, and create vibrant neighborhoods that attract business development and jobs while protecting the environment.

“The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is about achieving one goal: expanding opportunity for American families,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “These targeted investments are bringing more affordable housing and transportation options, and more economic resilience to regions that were hard hit by the economic crisis. In partnership with local leaders, I am convinced that the investments our agencies have made will enhance the health and wealth of communities for decades to come.”

“The Partnership is helping us align our transportation investments with the goals of providing affordable housing and preserving the environment,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Together with HUD and EPA, we are making fundamental changes in how we work together to benefit all Americans and provide new ladders of opportunity for many.”
“Communities know better than anyone else what they need,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, we at the federal level are organizing ourselves to give communities tools to address economic and environmental challenges in the way that works best for them.”

Since 2009, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities has been working to ensure that HUD, DOT, EPA and other federal agency investments better serve communities that were hard hit by the economic recession. Through its efforts, more than $4 billion has been awarded to 1,000 communities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. In addition to funding, many communities have also received technical assistance to help plan economic development and leverage private and other public resources to maximize the Partnership’s investments. For example:

  • Partnership-funded regional planning efforts in New York and New Jersey laid a strong foundation for recovery from Superstorm Sandy because communities in the region had already been collaborating on development issues.
  • Partnership grants helped Memphis, Tenn., create a master plan for redeveloping the area around its airport, as well as develop a plan to improve bike and pedestrian paths and spur revitalization in a midtown neighborhood.
  • Partnership funding helped the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota develop a regional plan to define the community’s future. It could be a model for other rural Native American communities as well.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities has also fundamentally changed the way that HUD, EPA and DOT evaluate and award competitive grants and technical assistance. The three agencies collaborate to review and select applications for many grants and technical assistance opportunities, such as DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants, HUD’s Community Challenge Grants, and EPA’s Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Grants. This collaboration ensures that federal investments maximize resources for communities.

To download the report: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/pdf/partnership-accomplishments-report-2014.pdf

Thank you!

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Thank you to all those who contributed to RCAP Solutions during the Greater Worcester GIVES 24 hour give-a-thon yesterday!

At the end of the day, RCAP Solutions ranked 46th out of 175 local non-profit organizations and received 10 gifts valuing $425!

This is the first time we have participated in an event like this one and are very happy with the results!

Once again, we thank those of you who made a contribution or passed our message along to help spread the word.

Every little bit counts and 100% of the profits will help to fund our programs and services to help support individuals, families and communities.

 

Four days until Greater Worcester Gives!

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RCAP Solutions is proud to be a non profit partner in Greater Worcester GIVES, a community-wide online giving challenge hosted by Greater Worcester Community Foundation which seeks to inspire as many people as possible to support local nonprofit organizations during a 24-hour period.

Please visit the RCAP Solutions Donation Page to make a donation on Tuesday, May 6, 2014: http://www.gwgives.org/#npo/rcap-solutions-inc

The goal is to raise unrestricted dollars for the nonprofit organizations that serve our communities.

For 24 hours, between 12:00am through 11:59pm on Tuesday, May 6, donors can make gifts of $25 or more to participating nonprofits that are located in or provide services in Worcester County.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the country’s first community foundation, we hope to shine a spotlight on the nonprofit community and make it fun and easy for individuals to support local nonprofit organizations.

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day by Supporting Water Quality Projects in 40 States and Puerto Rico

 

Of the USDA projects announced in the following release, RCAP Solutions provided technical assistance on 9 projects in CT, ME, MA, NY, and RI that were awarded funding over the past several years.  This resulted in $34,640,000  in USDA Loans and $59,111,872  in RD and Farm Bill grants for a total of $93,751,872 to small communities for water and wastewater system improvements.  

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WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today celebrated Earth Day by announcing record support for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment.

“Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said. “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these. I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”

Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program.

Also noteworthy this year are USDA’s accomplishments to help communities with the greatest needs. Sixteen of the Earth Day projects are in areas of persistent poverty. Twenty-nine are in communities served by USDA’s ” StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.” StrikeForce is a USDA initiative to reduce poverty by increasing investments in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships with community leaders, businesses, foundations and other groups that are working to combat poverty.

Climate change in particular is putting more stress on municipal water systems. Many areas around the country have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, declines in snowpack, intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. All of these are placing fiscal strains on communities – causing them to make more frequent (and often more expensive) repairs and upgrades.

Among projects funded this year, the city of McCrory, Ark., is receiving $2.1 million to build a water treatment facility and two water supply wells, and refurbish its two water storage tanks. The improvements will reduce high manganese and iron levels in the water supply to provide safe drinking water to McCrory’s nearly 800 residents. McCrory is in Woodruff County, a persistent poverty area that is part of USDA’s “StrikeForce initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.”

Paintsville, Ky., is receiving a $4.9 million loan and $2.1 million grant to rehabilitate its sanitary and stormwater sewer systems. This is one of 10 projects funded by USDA that will improve water infrastructure in rural areas of Kentucky. The Paintsville project will serve nearly 2,300 residents and businesses and protect the ecosystems of Paint Creek and nearby lakes.

The city of San Joaquin, Calif., is receiving a $1 million loan/grant combination to replace a contaminated well. The city had to shut down one of its three wells due to high levels of bacteria. Once completed, this project will ensure San Joaquin residents have safe, clean drinking water.

In Ohio, the Erie County Commissioners will use $3 million in loans and nearly $3 million in grants to replace individual on-site waste treatment systems that discharge into and pollute the Sandusky Bay and surrounding areas. The commissioners also will build a wastewater collection system for the Village of Bay View and the neighboring Bay Bridge area. The Bay View peninsula is a vital ecological and economic area in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the role each person can play to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include citizens and governments in more than 195 countries.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Spring 2014 Watershed to Well

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The Spring Watershed to Well is now available!  

You may access it by clicking here.

If you are not currently on the email distribution list, but would like to be added, please contact Maegen McCaffrey at mmccaffrey@rcapsolutions.org.

 

Pine Hill Water District always looks forward to RCAP’s assistance

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Candace Balmer, Water Resource Specialist

The Town of Shandaken, located in southern New York, was named after the native phrase “land of rapid waters” and is home to Slide Mountain, the highest peak in the Catskill Mountains. Shandaken is also home to The Pine Hill Water District, formed by the Town to take over an abandoned private water company serving over 200 mostly residential properties.

When  the Town initially took over the hamlet’s drinking water system, they had to make some improvements to comply with public health requirements.  This involved rehabilitating their water source, constructing a new storage reservoir, and replacing aging distribution mains.

RCAP Solutions helped the Town secure over $1.5 million in New York State Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and USDA Rural Development monies to upgrade the drinking water system.  RCAP Solutions also provided technical assistance to the Town on such issues as securing engineering and construction services, managing the project budget, providing documentation to funders, conducting a rate structure evaluation, and coordinating with primacy agencies and funders.

Most recently, RCAP Solutions has been assisting the Water District to evaluate the cost and funding options associated with several other system improvements, including remediating one of their wells, recently found to be under the direct influence of surface water (GWUDI); remediating their spring sources; and replacing several hundred feet of undersized distribution main that had not been part of the original upgrade project.

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RCAP Solutions is also helping them to develop a comprehensive asset management plan as well as a capital reserve strategy to assure funding for ongoing repair and replacement of critical components.

They also appreciate RCAP Solutions.  Mr. Clark said: “The Pine Hill Water District always looks forward to RCAP’s assistance.  With RCAP’s help, we have been able to move the Pine Hill Water District in a forward direction, both in terms of infrastructure and finances.”

Improving the water system has been deeply appreciated by the residents and businesses of this picturesque community, as has the diligence and professionalism of their Water Superintendent, Don Clark.

Photo: Don Clark, Pine Hill Water Superintendent beside the access door to one of the spring collection boxes.

Community Resources Program Update

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Scott Mueller, Director of Community Resources & Chief Rural Affairs Officer

Rural communities across the country are all experiencing challenges with keeping their localities clean, healthy, and economically vibrant.  This past year has certainly shown that the federal and state governments are tightening the purse strings further impacting local communities, but in particular the small rural communities.

RCAP Solutions Community Resources Program focuses on providing technical assistance at the local level to these smaller underserved communities focusing on providing Technical, Managerial, and Financial [TMF] technical assistance to those seeking to build capacity in these areas at the local level.

In particular one area which has shown to be of great benefit to communities is in the area of Water and Wastewater Asset Management Planning [AMP] and Effective Utility Management [EUM].  In order support or bolster any local economy it is important to have the necessary infrastructure to support its existing workforce, businesses, and in many cases tourism economies which demands clean water.

The current trend is to operate and maintain existing systems in a long term and sustainable approach and there are many approaches smaller communities can take towards this end as the monies from the federal and state entities are shrinking.  As such the responsibility for community systems are ultimately lying with the community itself.  This can often be a daunting responsibility and we are here to help communities through this process.

RCAP Solutions is pleased to be able to again this year offer in many cases free technical assistance in these areas to those communities which qualify.  We also provide an array of other Direct Service Contract services to those seeking special and individualized services.

We wish all communities the best in the upcoming year and to find out more information as to our programs and services please contact Scott Mueller, Director of Community Services and Chief Rural affairs officer at 315-482-2756 or email smueller@rcapsolutions.org.

Potable Water Operator Training in Puerto Rico

PR trainingJosefa Torres, District Director

In November, RCAP Solutions provided the first of three Potable Water Operator trainings at Sila María Calderón Foundation in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

This training activity is part of the Puerto Rico Department of Health Technical Assistance Support & Circuit Rider Project, to help 48 small community-owned public water systems work towards becoming compliant with the EPA Safe Drinking Water Act.

23 participants, representing 17 communities attended the EPA-Certified Operator Training Certification classes, coordinated by RCAP Staff members Josefa Torres, District Director and Juan Campos, Community Development Specialist.

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Upon completion, these water systems will meet the U.S. national standards for safe drinking water, many for the first time in the history of these particular community public water systems.