WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the
selection of organizations in 11 states, including Illinois, for loans and
grants to support job creation efforts and business development and to
strengthen economic growth in rural communities.
The announcement was made on the secretary’s behalf by U.S.
Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino
while he was attending the annual meeting of the National Rural Economic
Developers Association 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 said. “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.”
The $11.8 million is being provided through USDA’s Rural
Economic Development Loan and Grant program and will support 26 projects in 11
states. It provides zero-interest loans and grants to local utilities, which
then, in turn, lend the funds through to local businesses 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
EnerStar Electric Cooperative of Paris, Ill., received a $1
million loan to purchase grain handling equipment for the Coshocton Grain Co.
The project will add four jobs and save five positions.
Since the beginning of the Obama administration, the Rural
Economic Development Loan and Grant 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 and either expanded or helped establish more than 900
rural businesses and community projects.