As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ongoing efforts to boost opportunity in rural communities, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has awarded six low-interest loans to local governments and community organizations that will spur rural economic development in Missouri, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.
“These loans will improve rural economies by providing capital to small and emerging businesses,” Vilsack said. “Access to capital is too often the missing link that stands between success and failure for many businesses. This funding will help ensure that emerging rural businesses will have the resources they need to grow and prosper.”
USDA is awarding $3.5 million in loans through the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). The program provides 1 percent, low-interest loans to intermediaries that re-lend money to businesses and for community development projects in rural areas. These projects create jobs and help stem rural out-migration.
The recipients are:
Palm Beach County Department of Economic Sustainability, West Palm Beach. $1 million to finance economic development projects in rural areas, primarily for low- and moderate-income businesses and underrepresented groups.
Small Business Access Partners, Inc., Gainesville. $1 million to provide low-interest loans for business and community development in rural counties.
Nodaway County Economic Development, Inc., Maryville. $425,000 to expand a revolving loan fund that provides financing for small businesses in a high-poverty area in rural, Northwest Missouri. The projects assisted with the fund are expected to create up to 50 jobs.
Natural Capital Investment Fund, Chapel Hill. $364,104 to provide low-interest loans to public and non-profit organizations for small business and community development.
East Texas Regional Development Corporation, Kilgore. $500,000 to provide low-interest loans for business and community development in rural, underserved areas in Texas. This loan is expected to create 10 jobs.
Lift Fund, Inc., San Antonio. $222,364 to create a revolving loan fund that can benefit all counties in Texas. This loan is expected to create 33 jobs.
Four of the recipients receiving awards are partners in USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. The East Texas Regional Development Corp. serves the StrikeForce counties of Camp, Cherokee and Marion. Georgia’s Small Business Access Partners, Inc. serves the StrikeForce counties of Wilkes and Taliaferro. Palm Beach County in Florida, served by the Department of Economic Sustainability, is a StrikeForce County. Nearly half the 100 counties in North Carolina are served by StrikeForce. USDA launched StrikeForce in 2010 to address persistent poverty across America. USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs and help build program participation through intensive community outreach and technical assistance.