WASHINGTON, July 29, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced loans and grants for 92 projects worth $18.1 million to help support the start-up or expansion of rural small businesses. These funds are part of more than 20,000 grants and loans to more than 85,000 rural businesses USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service has awarded since the start of the Obama administration.
“I am proud of the work USDA has done to help small businesses grow in rural America because they are the engine that creates jobs,” Vilsack said. “These funds will allow small and emerging businesses and the organizations that support them to get the financing they need to strengthen their operations, create jobs and expand economic opportunities. Thanks to the 2014 Farm Bill, we can continue this work in a more streamlined and efficient way to benefit small businesses and the American taxpayer.”
USDA is awarding the funds through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program, theIntermediary Relending Program (IRP) and the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program.
USDA provides grants or zero-interest loans through the REDLG program to utilities that in turn fund projects to create and retain employment in rural areas. Vilsack announced $11.7 million in REDLG loans and grants for 18 recipients.
One of the organizations receiving funds under the REDLG program is the South Mississippi Electric Power Association, which has been selected for a $2 million loan. It will lend part of that to the city of Greenwood, which will buy and renovate a building for the Milwaukee Tools company. This project is expected to create more than 100 jobs in Lenore County. Lenore is one of many counties across the nation USDA has targeted for special assistance through theStrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity. USDA launched StrikeForce in 2010 to increase investments in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships with community leaders, businesses, foundations and other groups that are working to combat poverty.
In the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), Vilsack announced $2.5 million for three IRP recipients. Colorado’s First Southwest Bank is receiving a $1 million loan for business and community development in 11 counties in the southwest part of the state. The IRP program provides 1 percent loans to non-profit groups, cooperatives, federally recognized tribes and public agencies.
USDA is awarding 71 Rural Business Development Grants totaling $4 million. Congress established the RBDG program in the 2014 Farm Bill by combining the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program and the Rural Business Opportunity Grant program. One of the RBDG recipients, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Morristown, will receive a $110,020 grant to buy state-of-the-art equipment to train students in advanced manufacturing. The Northern Community Investment Corporation in Vermont is receiving two grants totaling $454,892 to establish a revolving fund and to provide technical assistance and professional consulting to help small businesses.
Past examples of how these awards have helped grow the economy in rural America include: Continue reading