CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA, April 21, 2014 –Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the creation of a new investment fund designed to help propel the growth of small businesses across rural America. Advantage Capital Partners, which will manage the fund, and their partners from eight Farm Credit institutions have pledged to invest nearly $150 million into the effort, USDA said in a news release.

The Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC), part of the Obama administration’s “Made in Rural America” export and investment initiative, will allow USDA to facilitate private equity investments in agriculture-related businesses. Currently, department programs exist to help provide loans or loan guarantees to help rural businesses, but many small companies also need equity support in addition to or instead of borrowed funds.

 “This new fund will allow innovative small businesses throughout rural America to access the capital they need to grow and create jobs,” Vilsack said. "One of USDA's top priorities is to help reenergize the rural economy, and we now have a powerful new tool available to help achieve that goal.”

USDA also announced that it will be accepting applications for other new Rural Business Investment Companies such as the one announced today. Interested applicants have until July 29th to submit their applications for review in fiscal year 2014. Any application accepted after this deadline will be held for consideration next year. USDA intends to accept RBIC applications through 2016, detailed information including application materials and instructions can be found at: www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RBIP.html.


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