$28 million available for economic development in Georgia

by | February 27, 2006 12:00 am

USDA Rural Development has $28 million available in business and industry loan guarantees to help rural start and expand businesses and create jobs, but funds must be obligated by June 30 or the funds may go to other states. Available funds are more than double last year’s allocation.

“There is no better way to promote a strong rural economy than to boost job creation in the private sector,” said Stone Workman, state director of USDA Rural Development. “We are contacting local lending institutions to encourage them to apply for these funds. Local lenders know viable rural businesses and our program allows them to make significantly larger loans than they might be able to make without our help.”

Funds are available under Rural Development’s Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program. Under this program, USDA can guarantee up to 80 percent of loans of $5 million or less made by private bank or other lending institution to start or expand a rural business. USDA can also guarantee smaller percentages of loans of more than $5 million to $25 million.

“Some of our rural areas have been hurt by loss jobs from business closings and movement of jobs overseas,” said Karen Bryan, program director for business and cooperative development in Georgia. “Businesses now have global competition for goods and services. We want to help them compete.”

In the last five years, the B&I program has helped finance the startup or expansion of more than 2,800 rural businesses in the United States. The result was creating or saving about 120,000 jobs.

The guarantee helps lenders by increasing loan limits. This makes it easier for them to pump more funds into their communities for economic development. The B&I program also provides an income stream for longer than conventional financing, in most cases. Rural Development provides assistance throughout the process. An automated program is available to help the lender with necessary forms.

“We are partners with rural communities,” Bryan said. “Those communities need economic stimulation and a diverse business community. More and more businesses are taking advantage of broad-band technology to increase demand for their products and services. Those companies keep expenses down and enjoy greater quality of life in a rural area.”

Lenders interested in learning more about this program can contact Eddie Douglas, eddie.douglas@ ga.usda.gov, or David Mull, david.mull@ga.usda.gov, or call 706-546-2154. Information is also available through six area offices: Cartersville, 770-386-3393; Athens, 706-546-2471; Macon, 478-752-8121; Waynesboro, 706-554-7001; Tifton, 229-382-0273; and Baxley, 912-367-3603.

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