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Rural Alabama receives $495K investment from USDA to spur economic growth

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development on Monday announced that the USDA is investing grants totaling $495,055 to support entrepreneurs and businesses in five rural Alabama counties, creating approximately 235 jobs.

Acting Alabama State Director for Rural Development Allen Bowen hailed USDA’s investment in the Yellowhammer State as a victory for small business.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in rural Alabama,” Bowen said. “Rural Alabamians and people across rural America depend on our small, ‘mom-and-pop’ businesses to provide goods and services for everyday life. Through programs such as the Rural Business Development Grant Program, we can help America’s rural businesses to recover and help our rural communities to build back better and stronger than ever before.”

According to the release, the USDA is funding four projects through the Rural Business Development Grant program in Alabama. This program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses. The business are in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues.

In Butler County, USDA’s investment of $99,000 will be used by the Butler County Commission to establish a revolving loan fund to assist entrepreneurs. The fund will help new and existing entrepreneurial businesses raise capital to cover additional business expenses and take advantage of growth opportunities.

The USDA is investing a total of $163,000 in Lamar County which will be used to attract a new industry to the city of Sulligent. The funds will be used to purchase machinery and equipment for a new business facility, which will then be leased to Resource Fiber LLC, a manufacturer of bamboo products. Through this investment, an estimated 111 jobs will be attracted to Sulligent.

In Perry and Jackson Counties, USDA’s investment of $19,199 will be used by Main Street Alabama to develop branding assets for the city of Marion and the city of Scottsboro to develop marketing plans in an effort to increase interest in both city’s downtown areas. The release says the funding will benefit small businesses located in both town’s downtown core.

The funds will be used to hire consultants to work with businesses located in the cities, with an aim toward marketing establishments located in the downtown area. The USDA says the exposure will help small and emerging businesses, will attract shoppers to both of these downtown areas, and will further economic development in both of these areas.

In Macon county, the USDA’s investment of $213,856 will be used to construct an access road in a new business development area in the city of Tuskegee, with immediate access to Interstate 85. This access road, to be named Airman Legacy Drive after the famed Tuskegee Airmen, will bring access to newly opened businesses to the citizenry, as well as Interstate 85 and U.S. Highway 81 travelers. This project is anticipated to help create approximately 100 new jobs.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL