2012-03-08 / Local & State

USDA Seeks Applications For Economic Development Funding

To create jobs in rural areas

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced Monday that USDA is seeking applications for loans and grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development.

“President Obama emphasized in his recent State of the Union address that we need to continue to do more to create jobs to sustain the current economic recovery,” Tonsager said. “With the loans and grants we are making available, USDA Rural Development will work closely with cooperatives and utilities that in turn help local businesses access capital and technical assistance. Our support leverages additional private investments and demonstrates the positive impact that public-private partnerships can have on rural communities and economies.”

The funding is being provided under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Eligible recipients are rural utilities program borrowers that pass the funds to local organizations. The money must be used for projects to retain and create jobs, upgrade public infrastructure, improve service delivery or improve the quality of life for area residents and visitors. The maximum amount of funding for any one project is increased to $1 million for loans and remains at $300,000 for grants.

Many organizations have used REDLG funds to support job creation directly and indirectly. For example, Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Crawford County received a REDLG in 2011 and passed the funding to a nationally recognized forging company, Erie Tool & Forge. The 100-year-old company used the funding to convert a section of the forge shop to energy efficient induction heating.

USDA plans to award up to $33 million in loans and $10 million in grants under this notice and has an additional $46 million in loan funding available from previous fiscal years for a total of $79 million in loan funding. The deadline for submitting applications is the last business day of each month during FY 2012. Applications must be submitted to the Rural Development State Office where the project will be located. A list of these offices is available on the USDA Rural Development at www.rurdev.usda.gov/pa or on page 12792 of the March 2 Federal Register, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pk g/FR-2012-03-02/pdf/2012- 5043.pdf.

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 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 active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable 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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