Thanks to funds from the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program, one cooperative is helping another in southeastern Illinois. Clay Electric Co-operative, Inc., Flora, received REDLG monies which it will relend to Wabash Communications Co-op, Louisville, Ill.
Wabash Communications will use the zero-percent loan to construct a new office building co-located with its current warehouse. Beyond its core business of being an incumbent public communications utility, national demand for broadband has created a need for additional high-speed internet in rural areas.
Since 2015, Wabash has increased its customer base by 165 percent through natural growth and acquisition, deploying state-of the-art fiber optic facilities to rural homes and businesses. Due to new business opportunities, its local consolidated employee base has increased from 52 employees to 127.
Clay Electric is also located in an opportunity zone and both entities serve rural poverty target strategy areas.