USDA announces new rural loan recipients

By Agri-Pulse staff

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ST. LOUIS, Mo., Aug. 6, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive loan and grant assistance to create jobs and boost economic development in rural areas. USDA says the announcement is part of the Obama administration's ongoing “efforts to strengthen the rural economy.”

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The announcement involves funding provided through three USDA economic development programs: the Intermediary Relending Program, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, and the Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program.

Intermediary Relending Program funds are awarded to community-based development or regional planning groups that then re-lend the money at a low interest rate to local businesses. The loans must be used to create or retain jobs by starting or expanding businesses. Since President Obama took office, this program has created or saved approximately 40,000 jobs.

For example, the Justine Petersen Housing and Reinvestment Corporation, a community development and investment firm in St. Louis, was selected to receive a $750,000 loan to establish a revolving, low-interest loan fund for small businesses in rural areas throughout Missouri. The projects assisted through the loan fund are expected to create more than 130 jobs.

USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program provides zero-interest loans and grants to local utilities that then, in turn, lend the funds to local businesses (ultimate recipients) that aim to create and retain employment in rural areas. The program funds business start-up or expansion, business incubators, education and training facilities and equipment, community development assistance, health care, and other community projects that support rural jobs. USDA says the REDLG program has helped create or save an estimated 25,000 rural jobs, provided $200 million in economic development assistance, improved manufacturing capability, expanded health care and educational facilities, and has either expanded or helped establish more than 900 rural businesses and community projects since the beginning of the Obama administration.

Midwest Energy, Inc., in Hays, Kan., is receiving a $167,000 economic development grant to build an addition for the fire station in Grainfield. The addition will include four bays, a training room, an office, restrooms with showers, and a mechanical area. Expanding the facility will ensure that Grainfield's firefighters have adequate space and equipment to respond to emergencies within its more than 115-square-mile service area.

Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) are provided to promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. Since the start of the Obama administration, $13 million in these grants have been provided to help more than 430 business and community projects in economically stressed rural communities find new opportunities for growth, USDA says. The projects have created more than 2,830 jobs. Rural Development will announce additional RBOG recipients later this year.

For example, in Bismarck, N.D., the Center for Technology and Business will use a $25,000 grant to help business owners in Bowman and Dickinson master the use of web applications, social media and other online information technology for their business operations.

Today's recipients will receive nearly $13 million in loans and grants. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement. In addition to Puerto Rico and the states of Missouri, Kansas, and North Dakota, other states receiving funding include: Calif., Conn., Minn., N.C., N.Y., Ohio, Ky., S.C., S.D., Va., Vt., W.Va., Wash. and Wis.

 View the list of recipients here.

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