WASHINGTON -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing in rural businesses to help create jobs and spur economic development.
'These investments will help businesses expand, help rural communities grow their economies and help support the community-based development goals of the Obama administration,' Vilsack said. 'USDA is providing loans and grants to our local partners who can leverage this money with funds from other sources for projects that will have broad economic impacts.
The funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Under this program, USDA provides zero-interest loans to utilities that lend funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas. These revolving loan funds broaden the program's reach and create a multiplier effect for its impact.
In Asheboro, N.C., USDA is awarding a $1.84 million loan and $300,000 grant to the Randolph Electric Membership Corporation to help the Town of Troy construct an industrial building that will be leased to a food manufacturing company. The project will help the town further develop an industrial park, creating an expected 300 jobs.
The Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corp. in Carthage, Tenn., has been selected for a $1.3 million loan to help Carthage Assisted Living, LLC renovate the former Carthage General Hospital into a 43-bed assisted-living facility. The new facility will have 20 studio apartments, 21 one-bedroom apartments, and one two-bedroom apartment. Currently there are no assisted-living facilities in the county, so families with elderly members must travel to Wilson, Putnam or Macon counties for this service. The project is expected to create 20 health care and related jobs during the next three years.
In addition to the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, other USDA programs help rural businesses. In Fiscal Year 2013, which ended September 30, USDA supported 26 organizations with more than $17 million for revolving loans through the Intermediary Relending Program. Additionally, USDA Rural Development provided nearly $1 billion in loan guarantees through the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan program to improve, develop or finance businesses in rural communities.
USDA's business programs have a history of proven results. In March 2012, Tennessee's Gibson Electric Membership Corporation used a $1 million REDLG loan to help Advantage Manufacturing Corp. buy equipment to expand. The loan helped former employees buy the production assets of a company that offshored work. The new company specialized in medical support products and has saved 19 jobs and created 10 additional jobs since then in rural West Tennessee.
Also, Vilsack announced the award of four Rural Business Enterprise Grants – two to provide technical assistance to help establish rural transportation systems and two to purchase equipment and for infrastructure. The Community Development Transportation Lending Service is receiving a $464,555 grant to develop transportation systems in Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. The Community Transportation Association of America, Inc., has been selected for a $464,556 grant to establish transportation systems in Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina and the Northern Mariana Islands. The City of McLaughlin in South Dakota is receiving a $42,455 grant to purchase equipment for a community youth organization and the City of Brownsville in Tennessee is receiving a $42,454 grant to assist with excavation and paving of a lot for a farmer's market.
In total, Vilsack announced today $17.6 million in loans and grants for projects in 15 states and the Northern Mariana Islands.
View the full list of recipients for Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants and Rural Business Enterprise Grants. Each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.