Olympia, WA, Feb 13, 2013 -- Lillian Salerno, USDA’s top business development official, today met with business leaders to learn more about Washington’s rural economy and offer assistance on job creation and economic growth efforts.
“This is a great opportunity to hear from business leaders in rural Washington and learn how USDA can more effectively work with lenders and other partners to provide technical assistance and access to capital for rural businesses,” said Salerno, who is acting administrator for USDA’s Rural Business and Cooperative Programs. “USDA offers several very effective programs that are helping rural businesses, and we need to continue to spread the word so these programs reach everyone who could benefit.”
Salerno’s visit is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to address challenges in rural America, build on the Administration’s rural economic strategy, and improve the implementation of that strategy. In 2010, the President signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Rural Council to coordinate the Administration’s efforts in rural America. The council’s three core functions are to: streamline and improve the effectiveness of Federal programs serving rural America; engage stakeholders, including farmers, ranchers and local citizens, on issues and solutions in rural communities; and promote and coordinate private-sector partnerships.
During her visit, Salerno discussed USDA’s Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan Program and the Rural Energy for America Program. Among other things, these programs provide capital for business growth and energy efficiency improvements. She also visited the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia and toured the Hands-On Children’s Museum in Olympia. The museum received a $4 million Business & Industry loan guarantee for leasehold improvements and equipment. She also visited Tachira, LLC, a local food outlet that received a $300,000 USDA Value Added Producer Grant in 2012.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, businesses and infrastructure, and community facilities have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of 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, has an active portfolio of more than $176 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.