Watertown, SD, May 21, 2012 -- A top USDA Rural Development official this week met with local leaders and business owners in the Midwest to highlight rural small business accomplishments and observe “National Small Business Week”.
"We know that to build a strong foundation for our country, we must continue to invest in rural communities and small businesses that create new economic opportunities for those who call rural America home," said John Padalino, Acting Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS). "We’ve seen continued growth in rural business development and the Obama Administration will continue working to strengthen local economies throughout the country.”
Padalino met this week with business leaders in Iowa and South Dakota and highlighted ways RBS business and cooperative programs help improve rural economic conditions by providing guaranteed loans and development grants for projects that help create and save jobs.
Nationally, from 2009 through 2011, RBS provided 12,214 guaranteed loans, direct loans and grants that assisted more than 50,000 businesses and helped create or save more than 266,000 jobs.
For example, Morris Manufacturing and Sales Corporation, a family-owned automotive parts manufacturer, had to lay off 100 of its 135 employees when two major automakers closed down production and reorganized. With the assistance from USDA Rural Development, Morris Manufacturing located in Brazil, Ind. secured four B&I loan guarantees totaling $10.2 million, which it used to restructure debt and purchase new equipment. As a direct result of these loans, the company rehired its laid off workers, built a new production facility, expanded its product line, and hired over 60 new employees.
The Montana Wagyu Cattle Company is a family-owned and operated business that raises cattle and provides USDA Grade-A beef and specialty beef products to restaurants, stores, and consumers throughout the region. In 2009, the company used their $49,900 Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) to grow and expand their business by selling products over the internet.
Today, the company sells and ships custom-ordered cuts of beef (steaks, roasts, and specialty cuts) to consumers and businesses all over the United States.
In 2010, Ecotrust of Portland, Oregon, used their $249,340 Rural Business Opportunity Grant to market their FoodHub internet website – an online directory and marketplace that connects regional farmers, grocers, restaurants, and wholesales – to food producers and buyers. The FoodHub website helps agricultural producers tap into the growing local foods market by shortening the supply chain between producers, sellers, and consumers. The RBOG will also be used to provide training and assistance to businesses that want to sell through the website.
In June 2010, 550 companies used FoodHub. Today, almost 3,600 businesses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and California use FoodHub to market their products.
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 using Federal resources more efficiently 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 and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers, and to improve the quality of life in rural areas.