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Blue Ridge Energy Secures Over $2.8 Million in USDA Funding for Three Caldwell County Project
As part of the mission of electric cooperatives to assist rural communities with quality of life economic development issues, funds are awarded to selected entries by the government’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG). Within the past year, Blue Ridge Energy was awarded $2.8 million for zero-interest loans to help support projects submitted and approved for the following: the City of Lenoir to build a new fire department for an underserved area; expansion of operations by Caldwell County employer Adhezion Biomedical, LLC; and Grace Chapel Fire Department for a water pumper firetruck.
Over many years of the cooperative’s involvement with the REDLG program, awarded funds have supported many different initiatives all across Blue Ridge Energy’s service area. REDLG loans and grants have supported job creation or expansion; adequate and clean water projects for towns; medical equipment and health care facilities; and adequate firefighting equipment and facilities.
REDLG, which is part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), enables electric cooperatives to support economic and community development projects in their service areas by providing zero-interest loan funds and grants to qualified entities. It is an important tool in bolstering the economies of rural America, which are typically more challenged in attracting jobs and quality, affordable access to health care and other vital resources.
More details on this year’s REDLG loans awarded locally:
City of Lenoir: A $1.36 million loan to Lenoir for a new fire station #3 on Wilkesboro Blvd. This will fill a critical need for fire and safety emergency response east of Smith’s Crossroads. In addition to homes and businesses, three schools are located in this area.
Adhezion Biomedical, LLC: A $1 million loan to assist in the expansion of its Hudson facility which manufactures surgical components for the medical industry. The expansion is projected to create an additional 40 jobs paying above average wages for positions ranging from equipment operators to research scientists. It is slated to occur over the next three years and includes property and building purchases as well as manufacturing equipment. Caldwell County EDC has also been working to secure state and local loan funds to accommodate job growth and new private investment in the Hudson facility.
Grace Chapel Fire Department: A $552,000 loan to assist in purchasing a water pumper truck. This will be the first equipment of its kind for the fire department, and will also carry extradition equipment for auto accidents, rope rescue equipment, water rescue equipment, and basic and advanced life support care medical equipment. It replaces a basic fire truck that is over 40 years old and has exceeded its useful life span.
"Supporting quality of life in the communities we serve is critical to our purpose as a local electric cooperative,” said Doug Johnson, chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Energy. “The REDLG program is an important tool for helping rural communities across the nation compete for critical services such as safety, health care, education and job development. We’re pleased we’re able to secure the latest funds for these critical projects,” Johnson said.
Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 76,000 members in northwest North Carolina. Its propane and fuels subsidiary also serves customers in the cooperative’s service area and beyond, including parts of Virginia and Catawba and Burke counties in North Carolina. For more information, visit BlueRidgeEnergy.com.