Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday announced the selection of projects in 12 states for loans and grants that will support job creation efforts, business development and strengthen economic growth in rural communities. Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager made the announcement on behalf of Secretary Vilsack.
"These investments will give businesses access to capital and new markets, allowing them to expand and increase hiring," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration is making historic investments in rural America and working to grow our economy so middle class families feel confident in their futures and their children's futures."
Funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which, in turn, provide funds to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.
For example, in Mississippi, Hancock County Development Commission will receive loan and grant funds to buy an industrial site and build a new "fuel farm" facility for a jet engine test complex, which Rolls Royce will lease at the Stennis Space Center. In Missouri, White River Valley Electric Cooperative will receive funds to be used to provide a loan to Ozark Technical College to construct a new campus in Hollister. The campus will allow the college to provide educational and vocational training courses to area residents.
The REDLG program has a record of success. In Leakesville, Miss., community partners and administrators from Jones County Junior College needed more off-campus centers. The college obtained a loan in 2009 through the Community Bank and Singing River Electric Power Association to help fund the construction of the centers. The funds were used to construct, furnish and equip a 17,868-square-foot educational training center.
With Thursday's announcement, USDA is investing nearly $13 million to spur economic growth. The following is a list of rural utilities that will receive funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.
• Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association – $740,000 loan and a $300,000 grant. Funds will be used to purchase fire equipment for Platte Valley Fire District Foundation for a new fire station in Kersey, CO. This project will create an estimated 15 new jobs and retain 48 jobs.
• Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative— $120,000 grant. Funds will be used to provide financing to the City of Barry for the construction of a sewer lift station. This development is an integral part of a business expansion plan and will add about 60 jobs to the area.
• Butler Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. – $702,500 loan. Funds will be used to support the expansion of the Asbury Park, Inc. retirement community in Newton.
• Midwest Energy, Inc. – $1,000,000 loan. Funds will be used to by Midwest Development, Inc. to fund the House$Smart program, which provides financial support for energy efficiency improvements.
• Jackson Energy Cooperative Corp. – $227,000 grant. Funds will be used to help the London-Laurel Industrial Development Authority retrofit an industrial building and convert it for use as a distribution center.