USDA Expands Access to Capital for Rural Businesses

A news release earlier this month from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that, “USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers today unveiled new rules to expand access to capital for rural businesses.

“‘Access to capital is one of the most important needs for businesses,’ Rikkers said. ‘USDA is partnering with the Treasury Department and other agencies to ensure that rural businesses have the resources they need to prosper and grow. The regulatory changes I am announcing today will help businesses expand their operations and create jobs.'”

The release noted that, “The changes, published in today’s Federal Register, make it easier for rural businesses to qualify for loans in USDA’s Business & Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program.

“They allow businesses to use the New Markets Tax Credit as a form of equity, and allow, for the first time, employees of a business to qualify for loan guarantees to purchase stock in a business by forming an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or worker cooperative.”

The USDA item added that, “The stock ownership provisions are modeled after rural cooperative businesses. Co-ops have been economic development partners with USDA for decades. A January 2016 USDA report indicated that cooperatives earned $6.5 billion in net income and generated $246.7 billion in total revenue in 2014.”

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