The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Jan. 19, 2018

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

The Van Wert County Board of Commissioners and County Economic Development Director Sarah Smith met with Tony Logan, U.S. Department of Agriculture state director for Ohio, to talk about ways the county could receive more of the dollars USDA Rural Development invests in Ohio. Also attending the meeting were Van Wert County Farm Bureau President Craig Pohlman and County FB Director Jennifer Wilson.

USDA Rural Development State Director Tony Logan talked with the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners on Thursday. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

USDA Rural Development State Director Tony Logan talked with the Van Wert County Board of Commissioners on Thursday. (Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent)

Logan first gave county officials an overview of the programs available in Ohio, where USDA Rural Development invested more than $700 million in 2013 to benefit individuals, businesses and communities with populations under 50,000 people.

“We’re a small town, small community player,” Logan said of USDA Rural Development.

Of the dollars spent in Ohio, the largest portion of the money ($556,433.650) went to Rural Development’s single-family guaranteed housing loans. Rural Development also provides business and industry loans ($9.3 million), Rural Energy for America loans ($11.1 million), Water and Waste loans ($16.5 million), community facility loans ($21.8 million) and multi-family housing rental assistance ($17.2 million).

“We’ve got a lot to talk about,” Smith said after hearing about all the programs for which USDA Rural Development provides funding.

Logan noted that local residents and businesses could qualify – and have qualified in the past – for some of the USDA programs, noting that county farmers can use Rural Energy Assistance Program (REAP) grants or loans to update or replace outdated grain dryers.

USDA is also working with the National Association of Counties (NACO) on the Made in Rural America Program to promote global exports and increased domestic distribution opportunities.

A representative of the REAP program will be at the NRG XPO, which will run from Saturday, August 30, through Labor Day at this year’s Van Wert County Fair, to answer questions and help complete applications.

In addition to small agricultural businesses, producers and cooperatives, USDA also provides funds for industrial-scale projects as well, Logan said, although he added that a good track record and sound business plan were needed to qualify for funding.

Locally, USDA has provided Business & Industry loans to a number of businesses and organizations, including $99,500 to the Van Wert Community Improvement Corporation in 2005 to create the local small business incubator. Single-family housing loans and grants to county homebuyers totaled nearly $2.6 million, with another $22.3 million awarded in loan guarantees.

Also important to the county, which is currently under Ohio Environmental Protection Agency findings and orders to fix wastewater treatment deficiencies in the Overholt Addition and an area along Richey Road, are long-term, low-interest USDA Water and Waste loans that could be used to fund those types of projects. County communities could also be eligible for Community Facility loans or grants to restore or construct public buildings.

In addition to local investment opportunities for USDA Rural Development programs, Logan also talked about USDA efforts related to the water quality problems in the Toledo area, while also detailing Ohio State University research into biofuel and other renewable energy sources. “They’re doing some real eye-popping stuff,” Logan added.

Following his meeting with the commissioners, Logan toured the Van Wert County Courthouse, including the renovated Common Pleas Courtroom.

POSTED: 08/15/14 at 7:26 am. FILED UNDER: News