Guest post by Chris Zeilinger, Assistant Director, Community Transportation Association of America
CTAA is looking for places we can help with our on-site technical assistance next year. Every year, as we’ve been doing for 26 years, we provide intensive technical assistance to four rural communities, and three tribal communities, all around their identified issues of passenger transportation and its connection with their local economy. We also provide less-intensive short-term technical assistance to rural and tribal communities on a rolling basis throughout the year.
This technical assistance – which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service – is free, but competitive. Interested persons should go to http://web1.ctaa.org/webmodules/webarticles/anmviewer.asp?a=49&z=5 on CTAA’s website, and select the appropriate application. Applications for long-term technical assistance, whether rural or tribal, are due to CTAA by March 2, 2015. There is no fixed deadline for short-term technical assistance; those may be submitted at any time.
I’m happy to talk or exchange emails with any prospective applicant for this technical assistance, to help them determine whether to pursue an application for our help. In case folks need my contact info, I’m easiest to reach by email ([email protected]), but I can also be reached by phone at 202-250-4108.
For prospective applicants, here are some helpful considerations:
- No money changes hands. Recipients of our technical assistance will get skilled help from CTAA staff, possibly aided by consultants of CTAA’s choosing, but will not receive any grant funding or other compensation.
- Within this technical assistance, “rural” means any location that is not part of a Census-designated urbanized area; geographically, this may include outer suburbs or rural pockets of metropolitan areas.
- “Tribal” technical assistance can be provided only to federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native communities.
- All technical assistance is contingent on available funding for CTAA to carry out this work, and is contingent upon USDA approval of the selected long-term projects.
- This is a program of passenger transportation technical assistance; we help communities with planning and improving public or other passenger transportation services in rural America and Indian Country.
- If selected and approved, any long-term technical assistance project probably would be launched on or after October 1, 2015, and would be carried out for the subsequent year, wrapping up around September 2016; applicants should keep that time frame in mind when preparing their applications. Short-term technical assistance may be delivered at any time, subject to the availability of CTAA’s staff and funding.
- Units of government may not apply for rural long-term technical assistance; we only accept “rural” applications from incorporated for-profit or nonprofit entities. However, we often provide technical assistance in communities where a public sector entity is working with a nonprofit partner such as a social services organization, Chamber of Commerce, or the like, and we also provide technical assistance to for-profit entities working in concert with their public sector partners.
- Previous recipients of CTAA’s long-term technical assistance may apply again, but will not receive any unique consideration.
- All successful applicants will demonstrate how they expect CTAA’s technical assistance to help them generate new jobs or other positive economic growth in their community.
- The scope of a technical assistance may be broad, such as for an entire multi-county region, or very narrow, such as around a specific building or neighborhood; we have assisted with planning efforts, transit system service design, marketing, training and operational improvements, facility design, and more. If the project involves doing things that help people get from one place to another, and improving the local economy in the process, we’re happy to help.
- While CTAA will consider technical assistance applications for projects in any rural or tribal area, the most favorably received applications are those in which (a) the lead applicant has an annual operating budget of $1 million or less, (b) unemployment in the project area exceeds that state’s unemployment rate, and (c) median household income in the project area is below that state’s median household income.