CoBank says it’s committing $7.5 million to a new private equity fund that will promote job growth and economic development through junior capital investments in agribusiness and other rural industries. The bank joined with five other Farm Credit institutions, along with commercial and community banks and other investors, to participate in the first round of financing for Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund, L.P. CoBank says initial commitments to the fund exceed $55 million, with investments to target areas such as crop protection, ingredients, processing, storage, data management and logistics. Managed by Open Prairie, which is based in Effingham, Ill., the fund has been licensed to operate as a Rural Business Investment Co. under USDA’s Rural Business Investment Program, which enables Farm Credit institutions to make equity investments in funds licensed by the agency. “We’re extremely pleased to be part of this exciting venture, which will support our mission by enhancing the flow of capital to rural America,” said Tom Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO. “The RBIC program is a unique vehicle that enables Farm Credit entities to partner with commercial and community banks to make job-creating investments in rural enterprises. We look forward to working with Open Prairie and seeing the economic development benefits this new fund will deliver over time.”

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