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USDA seeks applications to promote job creation and boost the rural economy
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Monday, April 08, 2013 8:31 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that applications are being accepted from qualified non-profit and public organizations (intermediaries) to provide loans to support rural businesses and community development groups. Funding, which is intended to spark business expansion and create jobs, will be made available through USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

“This program is a part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to leverage private investments with public funds to create jobs and expand economic opportunity for rural entrepreneurs,” Vilsack said. “Intermediaries serve as a critical component to boosting local economies.”

The Intermediary Relending Program is USDA Rural Development's primary program for capitalizing revolving loan funds.  USDA lends money to economic development intermediaries (nonprofits and public bodies) who in turn re-lend the funds as commercial loans to rural businesses (ultimate recipients) that might not otherwise be able to obtain such financing.  The repayment of the ultimate recipients’ loans allows the intermediary to continue to make more loans to new recipients, supporting sustainable economic development. Since President Obama took office, the program has created or saved an estimated 20,000 jobs.

For example, last year a $500,000 IRP loan was awarded to the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries (ADAI) to establish a revolving loan fund providing low-interest loans to ultimate recipients— businesses and communities—for energy efficient and energy saving projects. ADAI needed an affordable financing program to assist rural businesses and communities with alternative fuel production, delivery and energy savings investments. The first low-interest loan from ADAI assisted with equipment purchases for a new, small rural Alabama business. The business opening created seven jobs.

Funds are used to assist with financing business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities. Intermediaries are encouraged to work with state and regional representatives and in partnership with other public and private organizations that can provide complimentary resources.

For more information about the Intermediary Relending Program, and to learn about application deadlines, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_irp.html. For information on how to apply, see page 20883 of the April 8, 2013 Federal Register (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-08/html/2013-08186.htm). Applications and forms may be obtained from any Rural Development State Office.