USDA Commits $14 Million to Rural Jobs

Sep 14, 2011

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced $14 million in new funding Wednesday to help stimulate rural job growth. Small businesses across the country will get money, including a tiny airport in southern Missouri.

Malden, Mo., with just five thousand residents, wants to update its World War Two-era airport. “You know, the metal’s old, the doors are very difficult to open at times,” said airport manager Barbara Crayne. 

She said the $110,000 grant from the USDA for renovations will help attract more aircraft. “We have an air-evac helicopter that comes in. We have a lot of crop dusters because we are in an agricultural-based area.”

But a she said a retrofitted hangar will attract corporate clients. “The spinoff in the community is that they’re going in to the restaurants and to the shops, driving in possibly to get their aircraft, so they’re stopping at the gas stations.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said rural small businesses in particular often have trouble getting credit from commercial banks. These new loans and grants are aimed at closing that gap. “These small businesses will be prepared to buy equipment that allows them to expand operations, which in turn allows them to hire workers.”

The agriculture department grants and loans will go to 69 recipients in 40 states.