Friday, April 12, 2013

Applications sought to promote rural economy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that applications are being accepted from qualified non-profit and public organizations (intermediaries) to provide loans to support rural businesses and community development groups.

Funding, which is intended to spark business expansion and create jobs, will be made available through USDA's Intermediary Relending Program. The announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

"This program is a part of the Obama Administration's ongoing effort to leverage private investments with public funds to create jobs and expand economic opportunity for rural entrepreneurs," Vilsack said. "Intermediaries serve as a critical component to boosting local economies."

USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner added, "This program has been successful in leveraging private investments with public funds and expand economic opportunity for rural entrepreneurs," Brunner said. "These loans will continue to help small rural businesses grow, and create jobs."

Brunner is referring to a $400,000 loan that was made to the New Mexico Loan Fund last fall which is using the funding to target ag-producers and small businesses to fund renewable energy systems in communities such as Raton and in Roswell. The rest of the funds will be used to provide sustainability to small businesses in numerous small towns throughout the state.

The IRP is USDA Rural Development's primary program for capitalizing revolving loan funds. USDA lends money to economic development intermediaries (nonprofits and public bodies) who in turn re-lend the funds as commercial loans to rural businesses (ultimate recipients) that might not otherwise be able to obtain such financing. The repayment of the ultimate recipients' loans allows the intermediary to continue to make more loans to new recipients, supporting sustainable economic development. Since President Obama took office, the program has created or saved an estimated 20,000 jobs.

Funds are used to assist with financing business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities. Intermediaries are encouraged to work with state and regional representatives and in partnership with other public and private organizations that can provide complimentary resources.

The USDA says that President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about "historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities." Under the president's leadership, they say, the investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way by strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $172 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.

The USDA says it has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration, the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions.

For more information about the Intermediary Relending Program, and to learn about application deadlines, visit For information on how to apply, see page 20883 of the April 8, 2013 Federal Register ( Applications and forms may be obtained from any Rural Development State Office.

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