USDA celebrates Small Business Week with almost $40M in grants, loans

By Whitney Forman-Cook

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 6, 2016 - USDA announced Friday at the tail end of National Small Business Week that it will invest $39.3 million in rural small businesses.

“More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and these businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a release. “Supporting small businesses and rural communities is vital to our economic health. This funding enables communities to provide important support services and access to capital for rural, small businesses.”

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The funding will go to 68 projects in 26 states through loans and grants, USDA said.

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One of the recipients will be Webster City, Iowa, which will receive a $1 million Rural Economic Development loan and a $300,000 Rural Economic Development grant to construct a 16,400-square-foot addition to Van Diest Medical Center. USDA said the new space will house a medical clinic, meeting room and pharmacy, and the hospital and its satellite clinics will be implementing a new medical records system.

Six economic development groups will receive $3.1 million through the Intermediary Relending Program to capitalize low-interest loan funds for rural businesses. Finally, the Rural Microentreprenuer Assistance Program will provide seven businesses with $3.8 million through revolving loan funds and technical assistance grants.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, USDA Rural Development has invested $11 billion in 103,000 small or start-up rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and healthcare facilities; financed 180,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses, USDA says.

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