Investing in rural business through Illinois electric co-ops

The USDA understands that rural electric cooperatives are often leaders in their communities and the importance of economic development to the communities they serve. To invest in infrastructure that will expand opportunity for all Americans, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded organizations in 14 states loans and grants to ­support rural infrastructure, job creation efforts and ­business ­development. Western Illinois Electrical Coop. and Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative were two of the ­recipients of the zero-interest development loans.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) ­program. Under this program, USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities that lend funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas.

Western Illinois Electrical Coop. received $1,000,000 to fund construction of a grain mill/pelletizing plant for Dearwester Properties, LLC. The project will ­consist of a 10-acre site that will house a feed mill operated by Nutrition Services, LLC.

Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative received $200,902 to renovate the Pike County Health Department and construct a 3,700-square-foot addition. It also received $833,600 to help Harpole’s Heartland Lodge build three luxury cabins to increase occupancy at its resort and ­hunting outfitting business.