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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Economic Development Funding

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Economic Development Funding

Goal is to create jobs, economic opportunity and strengthen rural communities.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 43 community-based organizations to receive funding to promote economic growth and the selection of six rural microenterprises for loans and grants to support rural business development, create jobs and strengthen local communities.

"A strong rural America and a strong agricultural industry go hand in hand," said Vilsack. "These investments will bring increased economic opportunity to rural residents and communities. And they will help organizations expand job opportunities across the nation, part of the Obama Administration's effort to win the future."

The funding announced today is being provided through the Rural Community Development Initiative Program and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. RCDI helps community-based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and other groups promote economic growth in low-income, rural communities. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, which increase the value of the grants. The grants are awarded to public or nonprofit intermediary organizations. The funds are then provided to recipients, which must be located in eligible rural areas. RCDI funding, much of it regional in nature, underscores USDA's support of locally-led regional strategies. Recipients under the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program are development organizations that make loans to microenterprises and microentrepreneurs and provide business-based training and technical assistance grants to rural microborrowers.

For example, in Columbia, Md., Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. was selected to receive a RCDI grant to provide financial and technical assistance to 23 rural and tribal organizations working to create and preserve affordable and sustainable rural housing. Enterprise will leverage its expertise in green building and energy-efficient housing development to foster economic opportunity through staff training.

Of the more than $9.5 million in total funding Vilsack announced today, more than $3 million is being provided for Microentrepreneur assistance loans and grants. For example, the Eastern Maine Development Corporation in Bangor, Maine was selected to receive a $500,000 loan and a $105,000 grant to assist rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises in Hancock, Knox, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington counties. The project is expected to save 90 jobs and create 40.

Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan and grant agreement.

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