USDA awards $39.3 million in loans and grants to support economic development in rural areas

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Farm Forum

WASHINGTON – On May 6, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $39.3 million in loans and grants for 68 projects that will help small, rural businesses and communities in 26 states. The announcement comes as the Obama Administration celebrates the profound economic impact of American entrepreneurs during National Small Business Week.

“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,” Vilsack said. “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.”

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program, the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) program.

Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers made the announcement on Vilsack’s behalf during a visit to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative in Des Moines. Rikkers is in the state to meet with cooperative officials, business leaders and the public to highlight the important economic role cooperatives play in rural communities.

One of the recipients selected for funding, Webster City, Iowa, 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. The new space will house a medical clinic, meeting room and pharmacy. This funding also will enable the hospital and its satellite clinics to implement a new medical records system.

Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Bloomfield will receive a $1 million Rural Economic Development loan and a $300,000 Rural Economic Development grant to renovate the Van Buren Community School District’s middle/high school. The building lacks proper classroom space and requires technology improvements in order to provide a high-quality learning experience. Extra classroom space is needed because enrollment is expected to increase by approximately 90 students in the next school year.

Six economic development groups have been selected to receive $3.1 million through the IRP program to capitalize low-interest loan funds for business projects in rural communities. The RMAP program will provide seven microenterprises with $3.8 million through revolving loan funds and technical assistance grants.

Funding of each award announced is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.