It is mostly out of sight for many Minnesotans, but there are still functioning federal programs lifting up the rural economy, creating jobs and improving energy efficiency.
State director Colleen Landkamer of the USDA Rural Development agency released details of two sets of grants and loans this past week that are pumping nearly $2 million to help rural energy programs and rural businesses and job creation.
The feds provided more than $1.3 million to the Waseca Development Authority, the Northeast Entrepreneur Fund based at Duluth, and the Plainview Economic Development Authority.
Waseca and Northeast received loans through the Rural Development Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), and the Plainview EDA received a grant from the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program.
Separately, 16 farmers and rural businesses received more than $600,000 in grants and loans to install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency investments. Recipients are from Zumbrota Falls, St. James, Lewisville, Houston, Hector, Blooming Prairie, Arlington, Evansville, Dundee, Waterville, Hartland, LeRoy, Ogilvie, Le Center and Montgomery.
In the statement released by Landkamer, the Rural Development agency noted that about $3 billion has been invested in rural Minnesota since 2009 in federal programs for improving housing, infrastructure, community facilities, businesses and job creation. This comes at a time when business loans have been difficult to find for many rural and small businesses.