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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support for Projects That Will Spark Small Business Development and Job Creation in Rural America
WASHINGTON, Mar. 9, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that eight organizations in seven states have been selected for funding under USDA Rural Development's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). Under the program, funds are provided to an intermediary who "re-lends" it to entrepreneurs.
"Sometimes, a small loan is all an entrepreneur needs to start a business or produce a product. Through this program, USDA is working with organizations to help small, start-up businesses gain the technical assistance and training they need to win the future," Vilsack said. "Through this important program, USDA will provide access to capital for the smallest of small businesses."
For example in Twin Falls, Idaho, the Region IV Development Association, Inc. has been selected to receive a $300,000 loan and a $75,000 grant to capitalize a fund to make small loans to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises. Funds will be used to provide technical assistance and training to rural business owners, including minority populations and under-represented groups, in high unemployment areas. The funding will help 15 businesses create jobs. The Region IV Development Association serves eight counties in south-central Idaho.
In Eagle Butte, S.D., Four Bands Community Fund, Inc. has been selected to receive a $350,000 loan and an $85,000 grant to capitalize a revolving microloan fund and provide technical assistance and training to rural businesses. Four Bands helps residents of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation develop businesses and secure access to capital. The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program funding will help create or save an estimated 50 jobs.
USDA assistance to rural areas under this program includes loans and grants to microenterprises and microentrepreneurs, and business-based training and technical assistance grants to rural micro-borrowers and potential micro-borrowers. To learn more about this program please visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RMAP.html.
In today's selections, USDA is announcing more than $3.2 million to help rural businesses create jobs and offer economic opportunity to rural residents. The following is a complete list of recipients selected for funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.
- Region IV Development Association, Inc. — $300,000 loan; $75,000 grant
- Washington Hancock Community Agency — $150,000 loan; $37,500 grant
- Southwest Initiative Foundation — $500,000 loan; $105,000 grant
- Mo-Kan Development, Inc. — $400,000 loan; $100,000 grant
- Community Action Committee of Pike County — $250,000 loan; $62,500 grant
- The Progress Fund — $500,000 loan; $100,000 grant
- The Pottsville Area Development Corporation — $200,000 loan; $12,000 grant
- Four Bands Community Fund, Inc. — $350,000 loan; $85,647 grant
Authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, the RMAP program is already helping small rural businesses and business owners. For example, in Raleigh, N.C., the Microenterprise Loan Program (MLP) staff at the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center is using an RMAP grant awarded by USDA in 2010 to increase the loan volume for businesses in the program. This statewide non-profit group provides training and technical assistance through a network of nearly 60 organizations in 85 rural counties in the state. Since it was founded 22 years ago, MLP has lent more than $7.5 million to nearly 1,500 minority, women, and low-income entrepreneurs, helping create more than 3,000 jobs in the state's rural communities.
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 employees located in the nation's capital and 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 $146 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 Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).