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Blue Ridge Energy Secures Over $1.5 Million in USDA Funding for Two Community Projects
As part of the mission of electric cooperatives to assist rural communities with quality of life economic development issues, funds are awarded to entries selected by the government’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program (REDLG). This year, Blue Ridge Energy was recently awarded over $1.5 million for zero-interest loans to help support the following projects:
Blue Ridge received a REDLG loan and grant in the amount of $1,000,000 and $300,000, respectively, to assist in the site development of land on Ray Taylor Rd. in West Jefferson for the purposes of developing a new Industrial Park for Ashe County.
Blue Ridge received a REDLG loan in the amount of $240,000 to assist Wilbar Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. (Wilbar VFD) in the construction of an addition to the existing fire station in Wilkes County.
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 to qualified entities. It is an important tool in bolstering the economies of rural America, which are typically more challenged in attracting jobs and providing quality, affordable access to health care and other vital resources. Blue Ridge Energy maintains a revolving loan fund from the grants it’s awarded to help local organizations approved by the USDA. These funds are paid back directly to the Blue Ridge Energy revolving fund over time so that the cooperative can assist with future economic and community development loans.
More details on this year’s funds awarded locally:
Ashe County Industrial Park: Currently, Ashe County does not have an available site or buildings to meet the requirements for potential new industry. A developed site will attract new industry that would create jobs or allow a current industry to expand. Ashe County has identified a 41.8 acre parcel of land across from the existing Industrial Park that is suitable for development. Blue Ridge Energy will provide assistance with financing through the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program with a $1,360,000 loan at zero percent interest, which includes a twenty percent match ($60,000) from Blue Ridge Energy.
Wilbar Volunteer Fire Dept: Wilbar Volunteer Fire Department, Inc. (Wilbar VFD) is seeking to build an addition to the existing fire station in Wilkes County with their $240,000 loan. This department provides fire and rescue services to residences and areas in the Blue Ridge Energy service territory. The 50' X 50' addition will provide additional room for fire and rescue vehicles. It will also provide a meeting space for purposes including fire fighter association meetings and training space for Wilbar VFD and other local departments. It includes two restrooms with showers, a kitchen, office, and additional storage space. The addition could also be used to assist the community during emergencies such as floods or other public emergencies.
"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 to be able to secure the latest funds for these critical projects,” Johnson said.
Blue Ridge Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative serving some 77,000 members in northwest North Carolina. Its propane and fuels subsidiary serves customers in the cooperative’s service area as well as Burke, Catawba, and Grayson County, Va. For more information, visit BlueRidgeEnergy.com.
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