Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Highlights National Employment Increased by 162,000 Jobs in March; Discusses Recovery Act's Role in Saving Illinois Food Processing Plant and 133 Jobs
Plant's Former Owners Tap USDA Recovery Act Funds To Reacquire Company
PEORIA, Ill., April 2, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today visited a food processing company in Tazewell County, Illinois and highlighted that more than 162,000 new jobs were created throughout the country in March, the largest number of new jobs in three years, and an indication that the national economy is healing. Vilsack highlighted efforts led by the Obama Administration to create a new foundation for economic growth, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), which helped to keep the Illinois plant open and retain its 133 jobs. The funding was made available through USDA Rural Development's Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan Program.
"This is the most positive jobs report we have had in three years – an important step in the right direction - and President Obama and USDA are focused on the mission of creating good-paying jobs and helping rural businesses and local communities meet the challenges brought on by uncertain economic times," Vilsack said. "USDA's work to help the plant's former owners reacquire the facility and keep it open is another great example of how the Recovery Act is helping save and create jobs for hard-working citizens all across America."
The plant has a 73 year history of employing local residents. The Rocke family founded RMH Foods, a food processing company, in Morton, Ill., in 1937 and operated it until another processing company acquired it in October 2001. The plant's future was uncertain after the new owner announced plans to sell the portion of its portfolio that included RMH Foods. Jonathan Rocke, a third generation family member of the original owners, assembled a group of investors to pursue purchasing the plant to keep it open and continue operations at its current location.
RMH Acquisition, LLC, the firm established by Jonathan Rocke and his investors, used a $6.65 million Recovery Act guarantee of its loan with Morton Community Bank to complete the purchase of the company. USDA Rural Development awarded the loan guarantee in January, 2010.
Keeping the plant open will benefit the local economy. Morton and surrounding Tazewell County have experienced an unusually high number of job losses during the past 18 months. And the Recovery Act loan guarantee allowed RMH Foods to remain in Morton, retain its 133 employees and contracts with local partners, and continue to support the local tax base.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in 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 $132 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).