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USDA Rural Development Announces $10 Million to Support Local Businesses, Create Good-Paying Jobs, and Strengthen Nebraska Economy

(KFOR NEWS   February 3, 2022)   United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Nebraska State Director Kate Bolz announced her agency is investing nearly $10 million in Nebraska businesses today.

Nineteen businesses from across Nebraska have been awarded grants and low interest guaranteed loans under Rural Development’s Business Programs, which are included in the $1.4 billion total announced nationwide by United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack from Washington today.

“These investments are expected to improve job training, expand businesses, and provide technical assistance in rural Nebraska,” said Bolz. “They will help companies hire more workers and reach new customers, opening doors to new economic opportunities for communities who have historically lacked access to critical resources and financing. USDA Rural Development in Nebraska is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs, business cooperatives, and farmers create jobs, grow their businesses, and find new and better markets for the items they produce.”

In Vilsack’s remarks, he said USDA is committed to bringing value back to rural America, where for too long resources have been extracted to benefit more suburban areas, but wealth was not ensured for vital rural Americans.

“For some time, rural America has been at the mercy of an extraction economy, where resources are taken from rural lands only to create jobs and economic opportunity in urban and suburban areas,” said Vilsack. “That’s why USDA is committed to doing what we can to change that extraction economy into a circular economy, where value is added closer to home, so the wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas. Today’s announcement underlines the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to helping transform the economy and bring high-paying jobs and economic opportunities to the people who need it most.”

The funding announced today in Nebraska comes from USDA RD’s Business Programs, which include: Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant ProgramRural Cooperative Development Grant ProgramRural Microentrepreneur Assistance ProgramIntermediary Relending Program, and Value-Added Producer Grants.

Some of today’s investments included:

In Lincoln, Nebraska, the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center was awarded a $200,000 Nebraska Cooperative Development grant to educate individuals and entities about cooperative development. Focus in recent years has been on assisting small communities in retaining grocery stores. The funds will be to used to improve the economy and quality of life in rural communities by strengthening local food systems, exploring worker cooperatives, and creating technical assistance resources. The investment is expected to assist 40 cooperatives and create 10 new jobs.

In Lyons, Nebraska, Rural Investment Corporation, was awarded a $102,717.00 Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program grant. This investment will be used to provide working capital, training opportunities, and mentoring to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises in all 93 Nebraska counties.

In Grand Island, Nebraska, Native360 Loan Fund, Inc., was awarded an $8,700 grant to provide business-based training and technical assistance to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises in twelve Nebraska counties.

In Byron, Nebraska, Free Day Popcorn was awarded a $250,000 Value-Added Producer Grant to assist with marketing their Nebraska-grown popcorn locally. The grant funds will assist with packaging costs and selling popcorn under the Free Day brand directly to consumers through wholesale and retail accounts. The product is sold in grocery stores, gift shops, and through their website: freedaypopcorn.com. The grant will help fund the continued growth of the business.

Across America, these programs are part of a suite of business and cooperative services projected to help create or save more than 50,000 jobs in rural America through investments made in fiscal year 2021.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements in business development, housing, community facilities, and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ne. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

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