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July 2, 2015
Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs announces the 3rd annual Cream of the Crop agriculture photo contest for Illinois photographers ages 8 to 18. Participants must be Illinois residents and amateur photographers. Contestants will compete in three age categories: 8 to 10, 11 to 14, and 15 to 18. Each contestant is limited to two photo entries. Photo entries must be in JPG format, 300 dpi, and no larger than 5MB. To find more contest rules and to submit photos, go to the treasurer’s office website at Click on the Cream of the Crop Photo Contest link and follow upload instructions or read the rules. The submission deadline is July 9, 2015.

$16 Million Available for Rural Micro-Enterprise Development in 2015
Very small businesses are the lifeblood of rural America, yet small entrepreneurs often struggle to access credit and business training. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) operates a rural development program — the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) — aimed at addressing this gap. RMAP provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) — non-profit organizations, community-based financial institutions, and local economic development councils — that in turn provide technical services and microloans to rural small business owners in their states and local communities. USDA announced funding to support nearly $14.2 million in loans as well as $2.1 million in training and technical assistance grants for small business development in rural areas.

Top Ten Reasons to Support Locally Owned Business
1.  Local Character and Prosperity
2.  Community Well-Being
3. Local Decision-Making
4.  Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy
5.  Job and Wages
6.  Entrepreneurship
7.  Public Benefits and Costs
8.  Environmental Sustainability
9.  Competition
10.  Product Diversity

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