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News Release

Release No. 0483.10
Dane Henshall (202) 260-0996

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Agriculture Deputy Secretary Announces Support for Rural Economic Development Projects Across The Country

Kansas City, MO, Sept. 23, 2010 –Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan today announced the selection of 86 projects to receive loans and grants to create jobs and spur economic development in rural communities in 30 states, Guam and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Merrigan made the announcement during a speech to the Agricultural Business Council in Kansas City.

"The assistance we are providing today will build a stronger economic future for rural areas, including communities in Kansas and Missouri," Merrigan said. "It is an example of the ways in which the Obama Administration is helping strengthen the nation's rural communities by providing a foundation for job creation and economic growth."

For example, the White River Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc. in southwest Missouri will use a $740,000 Rural Economic Development Loan and a $300,000 Rural Economic Development Grant to provide a loan to the Gainesville school district to help finance a biomass energy system and energy efficiency improvements to the high school campus. The project will result in a substantial reduction in energy costs and use forest product waste materials to produce energy. The cost savings afforded by the project will help save an estimated 104 jobs.

In Kansas, the Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. in Mankato has been selected to receive a $740,000 Rural Economic Development Loan to be used to construct a new facility for Concordia Tractor, Inc. This 54,600 sq. ft. building will provide space for the company's expansion. The project is expected to save 35 jobs and create six jobs in Concordia.

The Magnolia Electric Power Association in Mississippi has been selected to receive a $740,000 Rural Economic Development Loan to be used to finance a 20,000 square-foot feed mill expansion project and purchase machinery for the Gatlin Corporation. The mill manufactures cattle, horse, and hog feed. In addition, the company offers bagged commodities such as corn, oats, wheat, cotton and seed. The facility will be located in Lincoln County, Mississippi. The project will create an estimated ten jobs.

Today's announcement also includes a Business and Industry guaranteed loan award in Hawaii to Big Island Carbon. The company has been selected to receive a $5 million award to construct a manufacturing plant that will convert macadamia nut shells into activated charcoal. The end-use application for the activated charcoal is in the ultra capacitor (hybrid car power units) market, catalyst support market and chemical and pharmaceutical markets. Additionally, the gas and biofuels created from the conversion of nut shells will be used to off-set the project's total energy needs. The project, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), is expected to save and create an estimated 30 jobs in Hawaii.

The $117.8 million in funding announced today including $87 million from the Recovery Act, is being provided through four USDA Rural Development programs: the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program, the Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program, the Intermediary Relending Program, and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program. Each program provides financial assistance to businesses, community-based development or regional planning groups, intermediaries and non-profit groups for projects that strengthen rural economies and create jobs.

Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the borrower or recipient meeting the conditions of the loan agreement. For a complete list of applicants that were selected to receive USDA Rural Development economic development funds, please click here.

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 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 $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.


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