Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $277,900 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding to support Hudson Valley businesses. The funding was allocated through USDA’s Rural Development Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Community Facility Grant programs. Sullivan County benefits from its federal Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone designation, one of five special economic development zones supported by the Senators and reauthorized in the Farm Bill. The designation helps give the county priority access to federal funding from the USDA to help grow the local economy and revitalize rural communities. The Senators wrote letters to USDA Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, in support of the applications.
“Our small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and this much-needed funding will help support our entrepreneurs in Sullivan and Delaware Counties,” said Senator Schumer. “This direct USDA assistance will help them generate economic revenue, create jobs and provide employee training, making it a win-win for our local small businesses and area residents.”
“Small businesses are the drivers of our economy,” Senator Gillibrand said. “As we strengthen our efforts to generate an economic recovery, we need to make sure that New York’s small business owners and entrepreneurs are not left out. This USDA funding will provide Hudson Valley businesses with the resources they need to get their businesses off the ground and boost their local economies.”
“A primary economic development goal of the County is to expand and diversify small business development opportunities,” said Scott Samuelson, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature. “This award will allow the County to make progress toward this goal by providing direct assistance to businesses and build upon the work being done by our local economic development agencies in assisting small businesses in the County.”
The Delaware County Local Development Corporation will use the $57,900 USDA grant to purchase brewery equipment that they will lease to Natural Gardens LLC. Natural Gardens will use this equipment to expand and support their micro-brewery business. This project will turn Natural Gardens into an agricultural tourism attraction that will provide recreation and education for visitors and create more than 20 new jobs.
The Sullivan County Division of Planning and Environmental Management will use the $200,000 USDA grant to support their Microenterprise Assistance Revolving Loan Fund. This fund will be used to provide financial assistance and entrepreneurial training for local start-ups and small businesses throughout Sullivan County.
The Liberty Community Development Corporation will use the $20,000 USDA Community Facility Grant to purchase storage equipment for a community kitchen. The kitchen supports start-up businesses and connects small food entrepreneurs with the local agricultural community, helping enable them to scale up to larger facilities and production levels. The facility hosts nutrition and cooking skills classes for the general public with the goal of improving public health and food education in the economically distressed county. Senator Gillibrand visited the community kitchen in August 2013.
USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grants are available to towns, State agencies, tribes and non-profits. They are used to support development of rural small businesses, distance learning networks and adult job training education programs.