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Vilsack announces funding for business development projects


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the selection of 44 recipients for more than $4 million in grants to create jobs by starting or expanding businesses in rural communities. Through funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, businesses will be able to access critical capital that will help with start-up and working capital loans, building and plant renovations, transportation improvements, project planning and other business needs.

"These Recovery Act grants are part of the Obama Administration's ongoing effort to promote job development by ensuring that strategic investments are made in rural America," said Vilsack. "Small businesses drive community revitalization by providing products and services to local residents. This funding will help spur important economic development and strengthen communities around the country."

For example, in Calhoun County, Ala., the town of Ohatchee has been selected to receive a $99,000 grant to refurbish and remodel a vacant building that will be become a local grocery store. Currently the residents of the community travel of town to purchase their groceries.

The Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator in Cleveland, Tenn., has been selected to receive a $99,000 grant to construct the Cleveland Bradley Energy Center, which will serve start-up businesses specializing in the fields of alternative energy, conservation, innovative "green" businesses, and businesses developing "green" technologies.

In addition to the grants that USDA Rural Development is providing for the 44 projects announced today, fund recipients have raised an additional $6.9 million from other sources to dedicate to the projects.

The funding announced today is being is being provided by ARRA through USDA Rural Development's Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program, which helps finance new and existing businesses as well as employment-related adult education programs. RBEG funds can be used for start-up and working capital loans, building and plant renovations, transportation improvements, project planning and other business needs. Additional information on the RBEG program may be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/rbeg.htm.

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