|By JANE HOUIN
MARYSVILLE, Ohio — USDA Secretary Mike Johanns announced last week that $1.4 million in financial assistance is being made available to two Ohio companies to expand business and job opportunities through USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program.
The package is the result of federal, state, and legislative teamwork designed to improve operations at the two businesses and create employment opportunities for more than 25 Ohio families.
“USDA is committed to working with our partners to create a more vibrant rural America,” said Johanns during his visit to Ohio last week for the announcement. “These guaranteed loans are one of many USDA tools to help strengthen rural economies by facilitating business growth and job creation and retention. We invested more than $40 million in Ohio during the last fiscal year and it’s nice to know that we are making a real difference in the lives of rural families.”
The two businesses receiving loans are Northwind Safety Corporation and Halliday Technologies, both in Union County, Ohio. This funding will be used to construct new 12,000 square foot manufacturing facilities that will consolidate and improve daily operations.
Northwind manufacturers and distributes safety and first aid equipment. Halliday produces a highly accurate friction detection device designed to improve the efficiency of winter snow and ice removal from Ohio’s roads. Each company receives approximately $700,000 through USDA Rural Development.
This financing package required close coordination and collaboration between the lender, Commercial National Bank, and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation (Farmer Mac). The arrangement between Farmer Mac and lending institutions expands the institution’s lending capability while increasing financing options for businesses in rural areas.
The $40 million in rural development funding provided to Ohio in fiscal year 2005 targeted assistance to businesses in need. Loans ranged from $50,000 to as much as $10 million.
USDA Rural Development’s mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development has invested more than $72 billion since the beginning of the Bush Administration to provide equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.
As a result, more than 1.2 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA’s website at www.rurdev.usda.gov
During Johanns’ visit, he also spoke with Ohio farm leaders about the challenges and opportunities of increasing ethanol production in Ohio during a brief roundtable discussion on ethanol.
Farmers stressed the need for a strong livestock industry in Ohio to complement the increasing ethanol industry. Without a livestock base, ethanol producers would not have a market for dried distillers grain, a high-protein byproduct of the ethanol production process.
Others expressed concern about the necessary infrastructure to store and transport corn and other feedstocks.
Johanns said the USDA is enthusiastic about farmer-owned ethanol plants.
“What we have to do is encourage farmers to look at this and say that it is a reasonable investment,” Johanns said.
This farm news was published in the Sept. 6, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.