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Economic development funding to support business growth, jobs

The USDA announces selection of 28 recipients in rural communities for loans and grants to spur economic development and create or save jobs.

The USDA has announced the selection of 28 recipients in rural communities for loans and grants to spur economic development and create or save jobs.

"The funding I am announcing today will help rural businesses, entrepreneurs and tribal communities obtain the financing they need to grow their businesses and create jobs," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These grants and loans represent the Obama administration's commitment to ensure that rural communities attract capital investments that lead to successful business development, job creation, infrastructure improvements, and economically vibrant communities."

USDA Rural Development is providing the loans and grants through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program, the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program.

In Arkansas, Clay County Electric Cooperative Corporation is being selected to receive a $500,000 rural economic development loan. These funds will be relent to the Randolph County Nursing home to finance a new, 140-bed facility in Pocahontas, Ark. This effort is expected to create 15 jobs and save 141 existing ones.

Beltrami Electric Cooperative, Inc., in Bemidji, Minn., is selected to receive a $195,108 rural economic development grant to help fund infrastructure improvements for an industrial park in Walker. This project is expected to create 346 jobs. With today's announcement, USDA is providing funding for 19 REDLG projects.

USDA Rural Development's RBEG program is funding nine projects to assist rural businesses and citizens and improve public transit for tribal communities in several states. The RBEG program provides grants to small and emerging rural businesses for projects such as distance learning networks and employment-related adult education programs. Rural public entities (towns, communities, state agencies and municipal authorities), Indian tribes and rural private non-profit corporations are eligible to apply for funding under this program.

For example, the Community Transportation Association of America, Inc. (CTAA) was selected to receive a $250,000 grant to provide technical assistance to develop public transit programs for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan; the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada; the Nooksack Indian Tribe in Washington; the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council in Alaska; the Northern Arapahoe Tribe of Wyoming; the Poarch Band Creek Indians in Alabama; the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians in Oregon; and the Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington.

CTAA was also selected to receive a $500,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to provide technical assistance to enhance public transit in rural communities in Arizona, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Michigan.

The RBEG program is also funding projects in North Dakota and Vermont. For example, the Center for an Agricultural Economy, in Hardwick, was selected to receive a $191,849 grant that will help fund the cost of a full-time advisor who will work with local colleges to advise agricultural and food businesses in the Northeast Kingdom REAP Zone. This project will focus on increasing local processing, distribution and sales of locally-produced food. In Bowman, N.D., the Bowman County Development Corporation was selected to receive a $73,500 grant to purchase digital theatre equipment to lease to the Bowman Theatre. This funding is expected to create four jobs.

USDA's IRP is designed to increase economic activity and employment in rural communities. Under this program, loans are provided to local organizations (intermediaries) to establish revolving loan funds. These revolving loan funds are used to finance business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities.

The Community Resource Group, Inc., in Fayetteville, Ark., was selected to receive a $400,000 loan to provide low-interest loans to rural water and wastewater facilities in counties in the Mississippi Delta. These loans will be used for capital improvements, predevelopment costs and energy efficiency upgrades.

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