Area businesses benefiting from USDA Rural Development relending program

Several Blair County businesses have or will benefit from a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Intermediary Relending Program.
Last month a ceremonial check presentation was held for the receipt of $750,000 from the Rural Development program to Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation.
ABCD updated The Daily Herald on the program last week. Spokesperson Chris McConnell said ABCD is providing a $250,000 match, which will mean $1 million to aid area businesses including some in the northern part of the county. She said two thirds of the money had already been committed. Those projects will be funded within the next six months.
McConnell said ABCD had already approved several companies for the program, but she could not officially confirm the companies since the USDA as of last week had not approved them.
However, several area companies including some from northern Blair have benefited in the past from the Intermediary Relending Program. ABCD said it has facilitated loans under the IRP program beginning with IRP 1 in 2001. Under the initial funding ABCD secured $500,000 in funds from the USDA along with an ABCD match of $166,667. The initial round of funding assisted eight local businesses resulting in the retention and/or creation of 208 jobs with total project costs of $5,762,468. In northern Blair, Gardners Candies and New Pig Corporation benefited from IRP 1 funding.
ABCD was then successful in obtaining a second round of funding from the USDA with IRP 2 funding in 2005 in the amount of $500,000 along with an additional ABCD match of $166,667. This second round of funding assisted six local businesses in the creation and/or retention of 112 jobs with total project costs of $3,262,834. In northern Blair, Fozard Enterprises benefited as a result of IRP 2.
ABCD said they currently have total loans outstanding of $956,232 on projects totaling $9,025,302 that resulted in the creation and/or retention of 320 jobs. ABCD said it also most likely would be working with the USDA in the near future for a fourth round of funding.
According to a USDA Rural Development press release Congressman Bill Shuster, USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania State Director Gary H. Groves and Martin Marasco, Executive Director & CEO of Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation participated in last month’s ceremonial check presentation. Shuster is the chairman of the Economic Development Subcommittee in Congress.
Shuster said, “Our economy in central and western Pennsylvania has been making progress, and it is because of successful programs like this that encourage investment in our communities. There is more work to do for our local economy, but this low-interest loan program will create more quality jobs, allow entrepreneurs a chance to grow their businesses and continue pushing our community forward.”
State Director Groves said, “Blair County will benefit from the economic stimulus provided by this Intermediary Relending Program loan to Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation. Its low-interest loans to commercial, industrial, service and technology-related businesses will help retain and create jobs, and this is a fine example of Rural Development’s commitment to the future of rural communities.”