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News Release

Release No. 0475.11
Vern Orrell 804-287-1590

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Virginia Entrepreneurs Join USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary to Give Feedback on How to Help the State's Small Businesses

GRUNDY, VA., Nov. 8, 2011—USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O'Brien today met with small business leaders from Southwest Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee to gather input on how the Obama Administration can work with local businesses and community leaders to improve rural economic conditions and create jobs. The meeting was hosted by the Booth Center on the campus of the Appalachian School of Law located in Grundy. The event was one in a series of roundtables being held across the nation with senior Obama Administration officials on behalf of the White House Business Council.

"The White House Business Council is working to build a robust economic strategy for rural America while seeking to ensure that continued federal investments in rural communities create maximum benefit for Americans," said O'Brien. "That includes creating jobs by modernizing critical infrastructure, providing broadband to rural communities, expanding educational opportunities, and promoting the production of renewable energy."

The roundtable discussions offer government leaders the unique opportunity to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. They also are intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that help rural businesses, residents, and communities.

The Southwest Virginia Roundtable attracted a diverse group of small businesses and business support groups from several different states. Joining the small businesses were business bankers, rural chambers of commerce, ethnic chambers of commerce, and other small business advocacy groups.

"Our programs have invested millions into rural Virginia businesses in the past few years," said Virginia State Director for USDA Rural Development, Ellen Davis. "Many new start-up and larger scale manufacturing businesses have all been able to save and add new jobs in the region using Rural Development Business and Industry Loans and other Rural Business Funding Options."

In the Business Roundtable host Town of Grundy, Rural Development Business assistance was provided to the town to install the necessary equipment to establish a high-speed wireless broadband internet system. This system now provides the local businesses in Grundy with exceptional internet speed allowing them to compete in the region.

Renewable Energy Systems are also being development in the area. Unaka Forest Products, the manufacturer of wooden shipping pallets, received Rural Development assistance to purchase and install a biomass wood-chip boiler to help heat their manufacturing center with wood waste that was normally hauled away to the local land-fill. This small improvement will help reduce their energy bill while increasing the company's profit margin.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses and entrepreneurs creating job opportunities and for people who want to live, work, and raise their families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure, and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.


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