Wilkin County Economic Development Authority (EDA) met Thursday, Oct. 10 to discuss pursuing a loan and grant program to initiate economic activity and community development.
The committee discussed and approved to reapply for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Loan and Grant program in spring 2020. This program intends to create and retain rural jobs.
The USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program provides funding to local utilities, EDA, for rural projects to create economic development in rural areas.
The USDA would provide a grant to EDA which would use the funding to establish Revolving Loan Funds (RLF).
This program would provide a zero-interest loan to EDA which would be passed to local businesses as the ultimate recipients. The loan would be applied to projects that are capable of creating jobs and retaining employment in rural areas.
EDA may pass the funding to local businesses for eligible such as: community development assistance to nonprofits and public bodies, facilities and equipment to educate and train rural residents to facilitate economic development, facilities and equipment for medical care for rural residents, business expansion, technical assistance, business incubators acting as a catalyst for local rural economic development and start-up costs.
Wilkin County is eligible to apply for this economic development program due to being in a rural community and having less than 50,000 residents.
If EDA were granted this loan, they are eligible for up to $2 million in loans to be requested, up to $300,000 in grants to establish RLFs, and up to 10 percent of funds to be applied toward operating expenses over the life of the RLF.
Terms for the committee will have 10 years at zero interest, grants require a 20 percent match and must be repaid upon the termination of the RLF to the USDA.
Local businesses may request up to 80 percent of project costs using these funds, with the remaining provided by the business or the EDA. The terms of the loan to the business is a zero-percent interest rate, up to a two-year deferred repayment, and the EDA may incorporate interest rates or administrated fees.
EDA discussed the denial of their application. Board Member Dennis Larson stated that the main reason for the denial in recent months of their application was the lack of letters of business from potential businesses.
EDA will be reaching out to local businesses for their submission of a letter as to why this program would be beneficial.
In other news, Board Member Eric Klindt stated that for 2020 Focus and Goals, the board should identify individuals in the community that are champions for that community and put together a contact list.
A joint meeting will be held with Breckenridge Port Authority and EDA regarding the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) programs at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Breckenridge City Hall.