USDA Awards Over $6.5 Million for Rural Economic Development

Grants will finance and facilitate development of small and emerging private rural business enterprises.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the award of 68 grants totaling $6,523,761 to fund rural economic development projects in 42 states and the Territory of Guam. The funds will create or save more than 900 estimated jobs.

"Job creation in rural communities is a vital part of the Bush Administration's commitment to maintain a strong national economy," says Johanns. "By supporting the creation of new businesses and expansion of existing businesses, this funding will provide attractive new job opportunities in America's heartland."

Nationwide in the past 12 months the U.S. economy has added over 1.7 million jobs and more than 5.5 million jobs have been created in the U.S. since August of 2003, according to Department of Labor statistics.

The grants announced were provided by USDA Rural Development and include Rural Business Enterprise Grants, which finance and facilitate development of small and emerging private rural business enterprises, and Rural Business Opportunity Grants, which promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs.

Among the grants announced was $99,000 to the City of Burley, Idaho, which will use the funds to purchase water rights, a water tower, well house, well and pump to develop an industrial/business site. Two to four small businesses will relocate to the new site in the coming months, and the project will create 10 new jobs. The Warren County, Mississippi, Board of Supervisors will receive $650,000 to improve cargo operations at the Port of Vicksburg. The funds will replace an outdated 15-ton crane with a new state of the art crane to handle incoming cargo more effectively, and make other port improvements. The WarrenCounty project will create 25 new jobs.

Other funds announced include $48,000 to the Heart of Wisconsin Community Incubator to provide technical assistance to start-up businesses, link businesses to investment capital, and build a diverse and dynamic business base for the SouthWoodCounty and Town of Rome region. The Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments will receive $25,150 for a website design class for business owners and operators. Businesses that participate in the course will be able to market their businesses and products through the Internet. This will benefit the businesses and the overall economy of Northwest Missouri.

A complete list of the grants announced is available at: www.rurdev.usda.gov.

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