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Success Stories

Norris Electric Cooperative and SKS USA receive USDA Rural Economic Development Loan in Richland County

Chris Hart
Economic Development
People in front of building

Norris Electric Cooperative, USDA, and SKS USA partnered to revitalize and expand a 16,000 sqft warehouse space owned by resident Mark Burgener. An additional 7,500 square feet is to be added to accommodate more offices and warehouse space for SKS USA. SKS USA is a wholly-owned USA subsidiary of SKS Germany and is responsible for the sales, marketing, warehousing, and distribution exclusively for the North American market. They distribute Blomus home décor and SQLab bicycle products. 

Retaining Mr. Burgener and SKS USA in Olney, Illinois, is essential for the local economy. Mr. Burgener, the owner, has over thirty years of experience in the industry and has served as President of SKS USA for 21 years since their inception in May of 2000. SKS USA started with ten employees, including Mr. Burgener, and since 2019 has expanded to 14 employees with the expectation of continual growth in staff. The warehouse expansion allows for future growth opportunities, and it is anticipated to hire an additional two to three office personnel and four to five warehouse associates. "Employee retention and increasing the future workforce to support growth are significant," Burgener said. 

The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities, which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly. The utility then is responsible for repayment to USDA.

 USDA provides grants to local utility organizations which use the funding to establish Revolving Loan Funds (RLF). Loans are made from the revolving loan funds to projects that will create or retain rural jobs. When the revolving loan fund is terminated, the grant is repaid to USDA.

Please visit the Illinois USDA Rural Development website for this program and more. 


Obligation Amount:
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Illinois: District 15