Washington, June 27, 2007 – Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced the award of $19.25 million to create or retain jobs at rural businesses.

“These funds will help local communities finance business expansions, implement economic development plans and make infrastructure improvements to ensure rural areas remain attractive,
economically viable places to live and work,” said Johanns. “The funding announced today is expected to help create or save more than 1,000 jobs in 23 states.”

The funds are being provided through the USDA Rural Development Intermediary Relending Program, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program. Funding in the relending program is given
to intermediaries, such as community development or regional planning groups, who then re-lend the funds to local businesses. The loans must be used to start new businesses, expand existing
ones, or create or retain jobs. The economic development program provides funds to support job retention or job creation efforts in rural communities. Efforts are made to help designated rural
communities address constraints in economic activity and growth, stagnant or declining employment, and isolation that has led to disconnection from markets, suppliers and centers of information
and finance.

www.usda.gov