Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Support to Increase Economic Development Opportunities, Create and Retain Jobs in Rural Communities | USDA
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News Release

Release No. 0258.10
Contact:
Dane Henshall (202) 260-0996
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan Announces Support to Increase Economic Development Opportunities, Create and Retain Jobs in Rural Communities

KINGFISHER, Okla., May 13, 2010 - Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced the recipients of loans and grants to spur economic development and create or save jobs in rural areas. USDA is providing these awards through three Rural Development program: The Intermediary Relending Program, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program for Rural Economic Area Partnerships. A telephone cooperative in Kingfisher was among the recipients announced today. Funding is authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).

"The funding we are announcing today will help rural businesses and entrepreneurs obtain the financing they need to thrive, grow and create jobs," Merrigan said. "These grants and loans represent the Obama Administration's ongoing commitment to ensure that rural communities attract capital investments that lead to business development and job creation."

To help create new economic opportunities, USDA has selected small businesses from across the country to receive funds under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, as well as the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program for Rural Economic Area Partnerships. Several of these businesses will benefit from local partnerships between USDA Rural Development and a local utility or cooperative. In addition, loans are being made through USDA Rural Development's Intermediary Relending Program. USDA provides the funds to community development or regional planning groups who then re-lend them to local businesses. Loans are used to start new businesses, expand existing ones, and create or retain jobs. In all, USDA announced more than $21.3 million today to provide economic development and business creation opportunities for rural communities across the nation.

For example, the Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc., in Kingfisher, Okla., has been selected to receive a $91,320 Rural Economic Development Grant to establish a revolving loan fund and provide a no-interest loan to Kingfisher Regional Hospital. The hospital will purchase equipment and furniture for the Rehabilitation Services and Specialty Clinic that is under construction at the new hospital complex. This project is expected to create five jobs.

During her visit to Kingfisher, Deputy Secretary Merrigan visited the Pioneer Cooperative, which is also a recipient of funding through the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). As a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Pioneer was awarded $1.81 million BIP loan and a $1.78 million BIP grant earlier this year. The cooperative will use the funding to design, engineer, and construct a fixed wireless broadband network that will extend from Kansas to the Texas border along the Western quarter of the state.

Meanwhile, in Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom Travel & Tourism Association has been selected to receive a $92,500 grant to promote regional agritourism targeting 15 farm businesses. The grant will increase the number of farms participating in the Vermont Fresh Network and allow the Association to continue to market the Northeast Kingdom as a geotourism destination.

In Livingston County, Mo., the Farmers Electric Cooperative has been selected to receive a $740,000 loan to expand a cold storage and public food warehouse facility in Chillicothe.

The South Carolina Rural Rehabilitation Corporation has been selected to receive a $750,000 loan to finance real estate acquisitions for farmers. This assistance will ultimately aid new businesses in the development and sale of products to local retailers, farmers markets, and processing facilities in South Carolina. The economic activity generated by USDA's loan assistance is expected to help seven businesses and create an estimated 30 new jobs.

In Connecticut, the Northeast Economic Alliance, Inc. (North Alliance) has been selected to receive a $500,000 loan to help firms that have had difficulty obtaining financing. North Alliance also partners with other nonprofit economic development entities, town economic development funds, and the state Department of Economic and Community Development to foster collaborative relationships with other state agencies, local banks and economic development entities. The economic activity generated by these loans is expected to retain and create about 60 jobs.

The funds announced today are part of USDA's annual budget and are not from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Funding of each loan or grant is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the agreement. A complete listing of the loan and grant awards follows:

Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program Recipients

Alabama

* South Alabama Electric Cooperative, Inc.: $550,000 loan; $300,000 grant; to assist with the construction of a software development and business process outsourcing company.

* Tombigbee Electric Cooperative, Inc.: $740,000 loan; to assist with constructing a 70 room hotel.

Kansas

* Rural Telephone Service Company, Inc.: $740,000 loan; $300,000 grant; to construct an addition to a county hospital for a new medical clinic.

* KanOkla Telephone Association, Inc.: $177,200 grant; to assist in purchasing a new fire truck.

Michigan

* Cherryland Electric Cooperative: $300,000 grant; to assist in purchasing a custom rescue pumper fire truck for a new station.

* Great Lakes Energy Cooperative: $600,000 loan; to purchase equipment for the expansion of an existing business.

Mississippi

* East Mississippi Electric Power Association: $740,000 loan; $300,000 grant; to assist with infrastructure associated with a proposed 400,000 sq. ft. distribution center.

Missouri

* Farmers Electric Cooperative, Inc.: $740,000 loan; to assist with the expansion of a cold storage and public food warehouse facility.

Oklahoma

* Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc.: $91,370 grant; to purchase equipment and furniture for a rehabilitation services and specialty clinic.

* Choctaw Electric Cooperative, Inc.: $200,000 loan; to assist in renovating the Hugo Rodeo Arena and Agri-plex building into the Hugo Event Center.

Oregon

* Columbia Basin Electric Cooperative, Inc.: $360,000 loan; to purchase a CT scanner for a hospital.

* Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative, Inc.: $740,000 loan; to assist in developing a briquette and pellet manufacturing facility.

Wisconsin

* Village of Slinger: $300,000 grant; to assist in constructing a 24-unit assisted living facility.

Virginia

* Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative: $250,000 loan; to assist in purchasing machinery and complete renovations to a building.

Rural Business Enterprise Grants for Rural Economic Area Partnership Recipients

North Dakota

* Adams County Development Corporation: $130,449 grant; to purchase two existing buildings to be used as a business incubator.

Vermont

* The Center for an Agricultural Economy: $200,000 grant; to provide technical assistance, consultation and training programs.

* Northern Forest Canoe Trails, Inc.: $40,000 grant; provide technical assistance to small businesses to promote tourism visitation.

* Northeast Kingdom Travel & Tourism Association: $92,500 grant; provide technical assistance to promote regional agritourism.

* Newport City Renaissance Corporation: $98,799 grant; to assist city businesses by creating Newport brand recognition and to develop a marketing strategy.

* Country Riders Snowmobile Club, Inc.: $99,000 grant; to purchase equipment to maintain winter tourism snow travel routes.

* University of Vermont & State Agriculture College: $192,348 grant; to create a dairy profitability enhancement project.

* Northern Community Investment Corporation: $63,700 grant; to complete a Growth Readiness Fund to assist selected innovative high-impact business partners.

Intermediary Relending Program Loan Recipients

California

* Economic Development and Financing Corporation, $300,000

* Lake County Business Outreach & Response Team, $500,000

Connecticut

* Northeast CT Economic Alliance, Inc., $500,000

Iowa

* Grow Iowa Foundation, $500,000

Kentucky

* Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation, $750,000

Minnesota

* Initiative Foundation, $750,000

Missouri

* Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority, $500,000

Nevada

* Rural Nevada Development Corporation, $700,000

New Hampshire

* Business Enterprise Development Corporation, $500,000

* Rockingham Economic Development Corporation, $500,000

New York

* Madison County Industrial Development Agency, $750,000

Pennsylvania

* Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania DBA Nepa Alliance, $750,000

South Carolina

* South Carolina Rural Rehabilitation Corporation, $750,000

South Dakota

* Deadwood Economic Development Corporation, $750,000

* Heartland Consumers Power District, $750,000

* Northeast South Dakota Economic Corporation, $750,000

Texas

* Neighborhood Housing Services of Dimmit County, $750,000

Washington

* Columbia Regional Economic Development Trust, $750,000

* The Lending Network, $750,000

* Seattle Economic Development Association, $500,000

West Virginia

* 4-C Economic Development Authority, $250,000

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 national, state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $134 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

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