USDA Aims For Rural Growth

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the selection of organizations in 11 states for loans and grants to support job creation efforts and business development, and to strengthen economic growth in rural communities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. The annou-ncement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy. The announcement was made on the Secretary’s behalf by USDA Rural Utilities Service Admini-strator John Padalino while he was attending the annual National Rural Economic Developers Association meeting in Austin, Texas.

“These investments will give rural businesses and local organizations more access to capital and new markets, allowing them to expand and increase hiring,” Vilsack says.

“Between 2009 and 2011, USDA used $1.4 billion in government funds to provide nearly $7 billion in loans and grants to help rural businesses grow and innovate. This kind of investment creates and saves jobs in rural communities and builds thriving economies for the long term, all major goals of the Obama Administration and USDA.”

Support For Rural Areas

The $11.8 million announced is being provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG). It provides zero-interest loans and grants to local utilities which then, in turn, lend the funds through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.

The program funds business start-up or expansion, business incubators, education and training facilities and equipment, community development assistance, health care and other community projects that support rural jobs.

For example, in October 2012, the Central Iowa Power Cooperative received a Rural Economic Development loan to help Precision Pulley and Idler, an employee-owned manufacturer in Pella, Iowa, expand its facilities to meet increased demand for the company’s products. The Pella operation has almost 200 employees.

Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the REDLG program has helped create or save an estimated 25,000 rural jobs, provided $200 million in economic development assistance, improved manufacturing capability, expanded health care and educational facilities.

Eleven States Receive Help

The announcement will support 26 projects in 11 states. According to Administrator Padalino, the announcement is yet another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs bill would further expand the rural economy – and he says that’s just one reason why Congress must pass comprehensive legislation as soon as possible.

USDA, through its Rural Develop-ment mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

USDA has provided information for this article.

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