WASHINGTON, Nov 20, 2013 -- Local Contact: Dawn Bonsell (717) 237-2286
National Contact: Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384
Agriculture Secretary Announces Economic Development Funding to Strengthen Businesses and Create Jobs in Rural Communities
Grants Include Innovative Local Foods Enterprises
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 34 organizations for grants to help rural cooperatives and small businesses expand and strengthen their capacity to serve rural citizens and communities.
“Our rural communities have incredible potential to create new jobs and expand opportunity for rural Americans,” said Vilsack. “The grants announced today will strengthen rural business development by partnering with rural co-ops and non-profits, expanding technical assistance for Main Street businesses. Today's effort is yet another example of USDA's comprehensive focus on revitalizing the rural economy, and it is a reminder that a new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill is pivotal to continue these efforts."
Funding is being provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program. The grants are being awarded to non-profit groups and higher education institutions to create and operate centers that help establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses. These competitively-awarded grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services. Since fiscal year 2009, the RCDG program has awarded 166 grants for approximately $33 million and has helped nearly 3,000 businesses.
Today’s announcement includes a $200,000 RCDG to Keystone Development Center in York, Pennsylvania to increase farm and rural resident income through cooperative development assistance in the mid-Atlantic states.
These centers provide technical assistance which will help generate new opportunities for American farmers and ranchers, create jobs in local food processing and distribution industries, and serve growing consumer demand for locally-produced products. A recent Michigan State University study found that the average food hub creates nearly 20 jobs and generates close to $4 million in sales.
Vilsack announced more than $6 million in grants for today’s list of recipients. Funding for each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
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.
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