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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Economic Development Funding To Support Business Growth, Create Jobs

Jacqueline Susmann
Release Date

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 27 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,” Vilsack said. “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.

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.

Leahy said, “This is the latest proof of the boost that REAP Zone status lends to the Northeast Kingdom’s continued agricultural renaissance and to the ongoing work to create a diverse regional economy. At a time when nearly every federal budget is being cut, NEK’s REAP Zone helps USDA Rural Development properly prioritize rural areas where this leverage can help the most, and areas like the NEK that have a proven track record of making good use of federal investments. The REAP Program makes a difference in Vermont communities, and that’s why I will continue the fight to renew its charter.”

Five Vermont businesses, all part of the Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) zone, are receiving Rural Business Enterprise Grants totaling almost $576,000. According to State Director for USDA Rural Development, Molly Lambert, “Their selection is a tribute to the quality of their work and the jobs they will create and save in the Kingdom as a result of their efforts.” 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. This project will focus on increasing local processing, distribution and sales of locally-produced food. Lyndon State College received $129,429 to expand its Incubator Without Walls program to provide technical assistance to the manufacturing sector in the Kingdom. St. Johnsbury Works! Inc. will utilize a $100,000 grant to provide business training opportunities throughout the Kingdom and develop downtown improvement strategies for St. Johnsbury. NCIC will put $99,000 to work by assisting businesses in the Kingdom to hire marketing, accounting, bookkeeping and website consultants to improve their bottom lines. Finally, the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont will receive a $55,500 grant to expand its online farmers’ market,YourFarmstand.com. This program will enroll more farmers as suppliers to the Kingdom’s farmers’ market and enhance the web service.

For a list of all recipients selected for funding under today’s announcement, please click here. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

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 is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in 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.