Washington, DC, Jul 18, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of three Nebraska organizations to receive a total of $900,000 to support job creation efforts, business development and strengthen economic growth in rural communities. The U.S. 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. The announcement was made on the Secretary’s behalf by USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino while he was attending the annual National Rural Economic Developers Association meeting in Austin, Texas.
Nebraska municipal utility providers included in today’s announcement that will receive USDA funding, contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement include:
• City of Gering – $300,000 grant, to capitalize a loan fund to help build two additions and a new building for the Legacy of the Plains, a historical farm and ranch museum. The project will create one full-time job, one part-time job, and help save one existing job.
• City of Tecumseh Board of Public Works – $300,000 grant, to set up a loan fund to help Johnson County Hospital upgrade its generator and modernize its electronic records management and pharmacy medication management systems. The project will create one job.
• City of Gothenburg – $300,000 grant, to create a loan fund to help Gothenburg Memorial Hospital upgrade servers and computer networks for its electronic medical records system. The project will create three jobs and save four existing positions.
“These investments will give rural businesses and local organizations more access to capital and new markets, allowing them to expand and increase hiring,” Vilsack said. “Between 2009 and 2011, USDA used $1.4 billion in government funds to provide nearly $7 billion in loans and grants to help rural businesses grow and innovate. This kind of investment creates and saves jobs in rural communities and builds thriving economies for the long term, all major goals of the Obama Administration and USDA.”
The funding being announced today is being provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG). It provides zero-interest loans and grants to local utilities which then, in turn, lend the funds through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The program funds business start-up or expansion, business incubators, education and training facilities and equipment, community development assistance, health care and other community projects that support rural jobs.
For example, last year in Nebraska the Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association received a $1 million Rural Economic Development Loan to assist in constructing Phase 1 (of 2 Phases) of the Chadron State College Rangeland Agricultural Center and Pavilion located on Chadron State College Campus. Phase 1 will provide the opportunity to increase enrollment for the Rangeland Program. The project leveraged $1,888,065 in funding and created two jobs.
Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the REDLG program has helped create or save an estimated 25,000 rural jobs, provided $200 million in economic development assistance, improved manufacturing capability, expanded health care and educational facilities, and has either expanded or helped establish over 900 rural businesses and community projects.
USDA Rural Development continues to accept applications for the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. An announcement of funding availability was published in the federal register on June 25, 2013 supporting $33 million in loans and $10 million in grants for Fiscal Year 2013. A highlight of the announcement included an increase in maximum loan award to $2,000,000 per project, increased from $1,000,000 previously. Grant award maximums remain at $300,000 per project. To view the June 25, 2013 Federal Register announcement please visit:http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-25/html/2013-15118.htm Those interested in making application for FY13 Rural Economic Development Loan funds in particular should contact a local Rural Development Representative soon to discuss application requirements. Contacts include: Marla Marx, firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-632-2195 extension 1132 – panhandle and southwest counties; Kelley Messenger, email@example.com or 308-237-3118 extension 1120 – north and south central counties; Bill Sheppard, firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-371-5350 extension 1004 – north and south east counties.
According to Administrator Padalino, today’s announcement is also yet another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy – and he said that’s just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
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 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 a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act.
USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).