USDA and Illinois co-ops work on job development

In October Jo-Carroll Energy and Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative were selected to receive funds from USDA Rural Development to help the rural communities in their service areas create jobs and build regional economies.

“This funding requires recipients to use collaborative efforts and regional approaches to address local needs,” said Colleen Callahan, state direct for USDA Rural Development. “By working together at the local and regional level, business leaders and communities identify the best ways to support economic growth in their region.”

Jo-Carroll Energy was selected to receive a $50,000 grant through the Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) program, which supports regional planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas. Jo-Carroll Energy, an electric and natural gas provider, will use the grant funds to establish a sustainable small business support center in Mt. Carroll, Ill.

The center will provide training, consulting, tools and resources to help small businesses in northwestern Illinois improve their management potential. The new center will be located at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies on the former Shimer College campus in Mt. Carroll. The RBOG grant will provide less than 20 percent of the estimated two-year cost of operating the center, with other funding coming from Jo-Carroll Energy and the Tri-County Economic Development Alliance.

Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative was selected to receive a $740,000 loan through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which supports job creation efforts, business development and strengthens economic growth in rural communities. The co-op will re-lend its 0 percent interest loan to the Mattoon Hotel and Convention Center to build a 35,000 square-foot Hilton Garden Inn facility in Mattoon. Approximately 150 people are expected to be employed at the 104 room, full-service hotel and conference center.

Coles-Moultrie was awarded another loan and grant earlier this year through the same program to support the renovation and modernization of Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon.

Rural Development has more than 40 programs that foster growth and economic stability in rural areas. Support is available for regional food systems, broadband and biofuel infrastructure, homeownership, business development and community needs. For more information go to