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YouthBuild: Loan will help build new facility

BEMIDJI - A new YouthBuild facility is in store this fall for Bemidji's Bi-County Community Action Program (BI-CAP) after it receive a $268,000 USDA Rural Development loan.

The loan was announced this week by Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who said "BI-CAP plays a vital role in the lives of many and this loan will allow them to continue their work for years to come."

The USDA Rural Development loan helps fund buildings, equipment and vehicles in areas with fewer than 20,000 people.

"It's about what is important to local organizations," said Kathy Luepke, local contact director for USDA Rural Development. "The USDA helps make their projects affordable, and able to be accomplished."

Rural Development funding has enhanced nearly 150 community building assignments.

"We've done a lot of work with BI-CAP," Luepke said. "And we are happy to do more."

Supported by five components of education, leadership development, construction, personal support and graduate services, BI-CAP's YouthBuild program helps low-income youth gain educational success and real-world experience to pursue productive lifestyles.

Young adults ages 16-24 who haven't received their diploma or GED are target applicants for YouthBuild. Serving about 30 young adults each year, BI-CAP's YouthBuild has been nationally awarded in 2011 by the YouthBuild USA Affiliated Network for the Highest Completion Rate as well as receiving for Highest Certification Rate.

"It's an awesome program," said BI-CAP Executive Director Deb Allison. "These youth do a lot of great things. It's win-win."

The time certainly has come for YouthBuild to have a new facility, Allison added.

"The building they are in now is small and old," she said. "It doesn't meet their needs."

Allison said the aid of USDA's long-term funding is the only way BI-CAP would "have this need converted into a reality."

The new facility with be built at 6603 Bemidji Ave. N, just north of Cattails Bar and Restaurant. Construction will begin this autumn.

"We're eager to break ground this fall and get the building finished over winter," said Allison, "That is our hope."