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USDA Seeks Applicants for Loan Funds to Create Rural Jobs

Applications are being accepted starting today from qualified non-profit and public organizations (intermediaries) to provide loans to create jobs by promoting new business development. Funding will be made available through USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). Intermediaries work as partners with USDA and serve as a critical component to boosting local economies.

The Intermediary Relending Program is USDA Rural Development’s primary program for capitalizing revolving loan funds. Since President Obama took office, the program has created or saved an estimated 20,000 jobs nationwide.

Here’s an example of how it works: Antler Ridge Winery in Pennsylvania is accurately named—a huge set of deer antlers proudly hangs behind the tasting bar at each of the four locations. USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Tom Williams recently joined state and local officials, as well as representatives from Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, to announce the award of a $115,000 business loan for the growing business. The loan, provided in part through a USDA Intermediary Revolving Loan, will be used to purchase land for the expansion of the branch winery located in Waymart, Wayne County.

Stephen Unis, owner of Antler Ridge Winery started the business in 2005. Although he has a degree in computer engineering, he couldn’t resist the urge to follow in a family tradition of home brewing that started with his grandfather’s passion for brewing hard cider. In turn, Unis started out home-brewing wine over 20 years ago. He grows many of his own grapes at the main location, located on the family farm in Rome, Bradford County. Additional grapes are all purchased from local growers and Unis proudly proclaims that he lives the “PA Preferred” life, supporting local producers in the surrounding region. The PA Preferred Program is a state-supported agricultural marketing program, launched by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania.

Antler Ridge Winery currently employs thirteen staff members in four rural northeastern Pennsylvania locations and plans to expand to additional locations. According to State Director Williams, “The Intermediary Revolving Loan Program is about helping businesses grow and providing more employment opportunities.” USDA provides funds to “intermediaries” which then make loans to the ultimate recipients. A wide variety of businesses can be funded and a number of loans can be made at the same time by one intermediary. For more information on the program, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_irp.html. To read the Federal Register notice, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-04-08/html/2013-08186.htm.