Investments support the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to build back better in rural America
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director Bob Morgan today announced that USDA is investing more than $32 million to help a diverse rural Pennsylvania keep resources and wealth right at home through job training, business expansion and technical assistance.
“These investments are yet another step as we build back better here in rural Pennsylvania,” Morgan said. “These funds will provide the needed capital to unlock value and business growth in our local rural economy.”
The funding announced today will help people and businesses in diverse communities and industries in 17 counties in Pennsylvania. It will allow companies to hire more workers and reach new customers. It helps open the door to new economic opportunities for communities and businesses who may have had limited access to critical resources and financing. These funds will allow entrepreneurs, business cooperatives and farmers create jobs, grow their business and find new and better markets for the items they produce.
For example, Pennsylvania businesses awarded Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG) include the following projects:
- Urban Homesteaders LLC in Allegheny County received a VAPG of $225,000 to support Urban Homesteaders LLC DBA Blackberry Meadows Farm located in Natrona Heights, Pa. The primary revenue for the farm is earned from cooking and selling hand-made food from its farmed meat and certified organic produce at farmers markets. The funds will be utilized primarily for processing and marketing the pork and mixed vegetable products being sold at the markets. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 75 per week and increase its revenue by approximately $270,000 over a 3-year period.
- Coexist Build LLC in Berks County received a VAPG of $49,135 for processing and testing Hemp Blocks for the construction industry. Hemp Blocks are durable, lightweight, carbon-negative construction blocks made from industrial hemp, lime, and other minerals for superior thermal resistance and mechanical properties that improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality in buildings. Funds will also be used to enhance its marketing capability through a fully integrated website. This project is anticipated to increase the independent producer's customer base and increase its revenue by $45,000 over a one-year period.
- Castanea Farm LLC in Berks County received a VAPG of $10,244 to support the family-operated, diversified farm producing chestnuts. The funds will be utilized to market and sell chestnuts. Producing chestnuts in Pennsylvania fills a niche void in the supply chain for chestnuts. Its customers vary from farm stands and markets, online sales to other states, as well as local immigrant communities. Expanding its operation will enable it to better serve those markets. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 25 percent and increase its revenue by $2.00 per pound over a two-year period.
- Grovedale Winery and Vineyard Inc. in Bradford County received a VAPG of $250,000 to support sales, marketing, and packaging expenses associated with the introduction and expansion of the winery's new product "Optimism Wine". This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by approximately 15,000 customers and increase its revenue by at least $200,000 over a three-year period.
- Dragonfly Hill Farm and Kitchen LLC in Bucks County received a VAPG of $44,554 to be used as working capital to support the Coopersburg, Pa., company that grows gourmet, hard neck heirloom garlic, heirloom winter squash, and several rare berry bushes. The funds will be utilized to process and market products including garlic scape pesto, dried garlic, and winter squash soups. These items will be sold wholesale to local farmers, farmer's markets, local health food stores, and through eCommerce. The project is anticipated to increase this beginning farmer, agricultural producer's customer base by at least 6,800 and increase its revenue by approximately $17,000 over a 17-month period.
- Goot Essa in Centre County received a VAPG of $235,000 to support the family business that begun in 2001 as a cooperative of six Amish dairy farmer families who worked together to produce high quality cheeses. It is now under the sole ownership and vision of John Esh. In the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, "Goot Essa" means "good food" or "good eating." Goot Essa LLC has successfully produced a wide range of over 18 different artisanal cheeses for wholesale and retail sales. The funds will be utilized for market expansion through digital transformation and enhancements. The new marketing trends will include on-line ordering, building social media content, and using digital communication to connect with current and new commercial and retail clients. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 2,130 and increase its revenue by approximately $600,000.
- Frances Sack in Chester County received a VAPG of $20,000 to expand on the processing and marketing of its sheep dairy farming business which produces sheep's milk cheeses and yogurts. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 450 and increase revenue by approximately $7,500 over a 2-year period through direct farm sales, farmer's markets, and local grocery stores throughout the county.
- Amy E. Brickner dba Destiny Dairy Bar in Cumberland County received a VAPG of $250,000 to support Destiny Dairy Bar in Carlisle Pa. Destiny Dairy Bar is owned by Amy Brickner, a third-generation dairy farmer. The funds will be utilized for processing, marketing, and packaging pasteurized A2-cow bottled milk, flavored milk, flavored high-protein milk, cheese curds, yogurt and ice cream. This project is anticipated to expand the agricultural producer's customer base by approximately 1,000 customers per week and increase its revenue by at least $102,000 over a two-year period.
- A & R Nissley Inc. in Lancaster County received a VAPG of $250,000 to support the company located in Bainbridge, Pa. A & R Nissley Inc. is a family-owned wine manufacturing business in operation since the mid 1970's. The funds will be utilized for processing, packaging, and marketing activities related to producing canned wine, called "Kiss Cans", from its harvested grapes. The goal is to increase sales through the expansion of the company's market and product line. This project will serve a socially disadvantaged independent producer and is anticipated to increase its customer base by 7,000 and its revenue by approximately $336,000 over a three-year period.
- Omar Beiler in Lancaster County received a VAPG of $250,000 to support Beiler's Heritage Acres located in Kinzers, Pa. Beiler's Heritage Acres is an Amish dairy farm owned and operated by Omar Beiler. The funds will assist with the farm's transition from selling manufacturing grade milk to locally produced Grade-A milk. The goals for this project are to successfully distribute this milk to customers in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Md., markets and to create economic stability and growth for his farm, family, and community. This project is anticipated to increase the independent producer's customer base by five and increase his revenue by approximately $1,000,000 over a 3-year period.
- Reuben Demaster dba Willow Haven Farm in Lehigh County received a VAPG of $42,965 to hire a consulting firm to help prepare a market analysis, marketing plan, and business plan to promote its organic cut flowers and expand its Community Certified Agriculture (CSA) program for its organic vegetables. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 300 and increase its revenue by approximately $18,000 over a 12-month period.
- Stryker Farm LLC in Monroe County received a VAPG of $250,000 to support the family-owned pig farm located in Saylorsburg, Pa. The funds will be utilized for processing, marketing and selling its various pork products through a new e-commerce website. These technological upgrades to the current website will expand retail sales thru new features such as a local home delivery option, delivery date preferences, easier site navigation, and an expanded selection of meats. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 180 retail customers and increase its revenue by approximately $371,000 over a 26-month period.
- Mark & Melanie Bachman; Eric & Hanah Peangatelli in Potter County received a VAPG of $248,410 to support Wellwyn Farm, a fourth-generation family dairy farm located in Ulysses, Pa., co-owned by Mark & Melanie Bachman and Eric & Hanna Peangatelli. The goal for the operation on the farm is to market 100 percent of the milk produced as God's Country Creamery dairy products. God's Country Creamery is the on-farm, milk-processing operation which bottles pasteurized milk and flavored milk, as well as produces artisan raw milk cheeses. These dairy products are then sold either wholesale locally to stores and restaurants, or directly to consumers through the on-farm store, food shows, and festivals. With the funds being used for marketing purposes, this project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 100 customers and 60 stores and increase its revenue by approximately $161,000 over the next three years.
- Red Hill Farms Inc. in Schuylkill County received a VAPG of $250,000 to be used as working capital to support the family-owned, eighth-generation commodity farm located in Pitman, Pa. The funds will be utilized for processing and marketing local beef, canola oil, and organic potatoes. All products will be marketed locally through the family's farm-branded internet sales platform, Red Hill Harvest, with direct-to-door delivery. By diversifying and expanding its product line, Red Hill Farms' goal is to increase its financial stability by becoming less dependent solely on the commodity market, acquire new retail and wholesale customers, and increase the environmental sustainability and biodiversity of the farm. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 1,500 and increase its revenue by approximately $2,020,000 over a three-year period.
- Lance S. Mitchell in Venango County received a VAPG of $109,120 to support Lance S. Mitchell and Gayle P. Mitchell DBA Mitch-Hill Dairy Farm & Creamery located in Venus, Pa. The funds will be utilized to develop, market, package, label, and deliver at least 12 new and unique flavors of drinkable yogurt smoothies in the next few years. This project is anticipated to increase the agricultural producer's customer base by 4,500 and increase its revenue by approximately $141,000 over a two-year period.
Business & Industry Loan Guarantees:
- Workover Solutions Inc. in Allegheny County received a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee of $5.6 million and a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of $3.5 million to refinance all its existing debt and purchase machinery and equipment. Workover Solutions Inc. is a thru-tubing service company that was founded in 2015, primarily servicing wells for customers in the oil and gas industry operating out of the Bakken, Marcellus, Permian, and Utica basins. It provides a variety of well services including diagnosing issues, drilling, or fishing out obstructions, plugging the wells or storing gas.
- SNB Hospitality LLC in Cambria County received a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee through the CARES Act of $650,000 to provide working capital. SNB Hospitality LLC operates a Sleep Inn hotel located in Johnstown, Pa. The hotel was impacted due to the state and federal mandated regulations that affected the tourism and hospitality industries. The hotel's debt and operational costs increased, and the working capital will help this family-owned business respond to and rebound from these effects of the pandemic crisis.
- Tohickon Family Camping LLC in Bucks County received a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee of $1.2 million to help purchase an existing campground business including all inventory, business assets, and real estate located in Quakertown, Pa. The property, Tohickon Family Campground, is 54 acres consisting of 169 camping sites, a sewer treatment plant, pool, laundry facility, bathhouse, barn, store, grist mill, and a farmhouse residence.
- Terrace Asset Ownership LLC in Fayette County received a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee of $7.8 million to acquire a 120-bed nursing home located in Uniontown, Pa. This loan guarantee will be used to pay off an interim loan used to purchase the facility that has been operating as Cherry Tree Nursing Center. Post-acquisition, the name will be changed to Bella Healthcare Center.
- Bald Birds Brewing Company LLC in Lycoming County received a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee of $2.4 million to purchase and install large scale brewing equipment consistent with the brewery manufacturing process. In addition, the funds will be used to refinance debt. Their location in Jersey Shore, Pa., will be utilized as a tasting room with the primary focus being on production of beer for Bald Birds and other craft brewers. As some craft brewers maintain small tasting and brewing locations, they lack the capacity to produce their own beer for re-sale in quantity. In turn, this is where Bald Birds will create its niche by offering contracted beer production to other craft brewers.
- Nuweld Inc. in Lycoming County received a Business & Industry Loan Guarantee of $7.8 million that will be used as working capital. NuWeld Inc. primarily provides welding services to clients in the natural gas industry in addition to offering specialized mechanical, structural and piping services. The company has been in business approximately 25 years mainly serving clients in northern Pennsylvania.
Intermediary Relending Program (IRP)
- The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Titusville in Crawford County received an IRP of $500,000 to establish a revolving loan fund in the Titusville Area School District. This rural area school district consists of three counties: Crawford, Venango, and Warren. Businesses within the authority's industrial parks and the school district are expanding rapidly and this revolving loan fund will facilitate the start-up and expansion of these businesses.
Rural Community Development Grant (RCDG)
- Keystone Development Center Inc in Lancaster County received an RCDG of $200,000 to sustain communities, economies and resources through cooperatively owned businesses in rural Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. These funds support continued development efforts of new cooperative approaches in its region. KDC's diverse clientele includes a Pennsylvania grass-fed beef cooperative, two new dairy cooperatives, a rural housing cooperative, and outreach and education to support a rural homecare worker-owned cooperative. Farmers, rural residents, rural organizations, food-processing firms, and consumers will be positively impacted through the cooperative development efforts of KDC in 2021-2022.
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP)
- Jari Growth Fund Inc. in Cambria County received $91,788 grant through the RMAP to support the ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises. Technical assistance grant funds will help provide JARI Growth Fund, Inc. with the capital to establish a revolving loan fund to help make microloans for microenterprise startups and growth within a six-county region of southwestern PA. These funds will provide training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and microentrepreneurs.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted 751 investments that USDA is making in eight programs specifically designed to create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas. These programs include Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantees, which provided record-breaking investments in fiscal year 2021, and the B&I CARES Act Program, which has helped create thousands of jobs with funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Programs also include Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Intermediary Relending Program and Value-Added Producer Grants. That release can be read in its entirety here.
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