Portland, OR, Feb 15, 2013 -- During visits at three small businesses this week, Lillian Salerno, USDA Acting Administrator for Rural Business programs, received feedback on how federal financing programs can most effectively benefit the many small, natural resource-based enterprises that drive Oregon’s rural economy.
“As President Obama mentioned in the State of the Union address investing in rural small businesses and energy efficiency programs is essential to strengthening our rural economies,” said Salerno. “USDA is working with communities across Oregon to create new ladders of opportunity.”
Salerno was in the region to meet with stakeholders, partners and program participants in both Oregon and Washington. The purpose was to gain insight on the needs and considerations for USDA loan and grant programs supporting affordable business financing, economic development, renewable energy installation, and energy efficiency with rural enterprises across the Pacific Northwest.
While in Oregon, Administrator Salerno stopped in the Eola Hills area northwest of Salem to learn how a competitive Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) from USDA Rural Development enabled Zena Forest Products to add two full-time employees, streamline internal processes, and double production of sustainable wood flooring in less than a year.
At Cherry Country Orchard and Chocolate Factory, the Administrator visited with the father-daughter business team of Celeste and Michael Shadbolt who produce dried fruits, jellies, and candies from the cherries grown and processed at their Willamette Valley farm. Participation through the VAPG program has helped Cherry Country add new product lines with added processing activities and conduct marketing to reach new customers.
The visit concluded with a tour of Left Coast Cellars, a winery that installed two solar arrays with assistance through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program. The 21 kW ground-mounted solar array provides 100 percent of the power for the winery’s guest cottage, front gate, and estate irrigation needs. The 62 kW roof-mounted solar installation generates the majority of the winery’s other electricity needs. The project has significantly reduced energy costs, along with the carbon footprint of operations.
For additional information on USDA Rural Development programs and projects, please visit Rural Development's 2012 Progress Report or the new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for the past four fiscal years. The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.
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, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure 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.
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