Co-ops partner with USDA to spark jobs

Corn Harvest
USDA loans and grants through rural utilities help turn corn into new jobs as well as spur other job creators in rural Illinois.

Corn Belt Energy, Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative and Shelby Electric Cooperative were among several Illinois electric cooperatives to receive loans from the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grants Program to support rural communities and job growth in 2014.

In Bloomington, Ill., Corn Belt Energy’s project will be for $1,775,000 for the purchase of equipment for Patriot Renewable Fuels, LLC, a 100-million gallon ethanol plant. It will be installing Selective Milling Technology, which should increase its ethanol production by 2-3 percent. With another loan for $2 million, Corn Belt also helped with the purchase of equipment for Patriot Fuels Biodiesel, LLC, for a 5-million gallon-per-year biodiesel plant it is constructing. This will help create at least 10 new jobs.

In Mattoon, Ill., Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative’s project will be for the expansion of Mattoon Precision Manufacturing, Inc., an automotive parts manufacturer. With the $2 million loan, it will be adding additional manufacturing and warehousing space, which will aid in creating 16 new jobs and saving four current positions.

In Shelbyville, Ill., Shelby Electric Cooperative, with a $2 million loan, will be helping with the expansion of IHI Turbo America, an automotive and marine parts ­manufacturer. It will be adding an additional 26,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space, which will aid in creating 30 new jobs.

Illinois Director for USDA Rural Development Colleen Callahan says, “Our partnership with cooperatives and ­utilities helps us extend our capacity to help rural Illinois business and community projects. Electric ­cooperatives, much like Rural Development, are committed to ­community development in rural areas, and 11 Illinois electric ­cooperatives are currently using Rural Development funds to support local projects.”