Heartland receives USDA Friend of Rural Development Award

August 1, 2019

For over a decade, Heartland Consumers Power District has been providing low-interest loans to new and expanding businesses throughout their customer base, utilizing funds provided by USDA Rural Development (RD).

For their efforts in promoting rural development, Heartland was recently presented the “USDA Friend of Rural Development Award.”  USDA RD State Director Julie Gross and USDA RD Business & Cooperative Programs Director Dana Kleinsasser presented Heartland with the award at the company’s annual Summer Conference, where USDA was invited to speak about programs and services available to Heartland customers.

Gross illustrated Heartland’s partnership with USDA RD over the years, describing Heartland as an advocate of rural development and working tirelessly to help their customer communities grow.

Heartland’s HELP Fund makes use of USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), which provides low-interest loans to local intermediaries, such as Heartland, that re-lend to businesses to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities.

In Fiscal Year 2019, Heartland received an IRP loan of $1,000,000 to help finance loans to small and emerging businesses and community facility projects in a 14-county area.  It is anticipated that as many as 10 small businesses will be assisted and more than 121 jobs will be created or saved through this funding.

Heartland also participates in the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which provides zero interest loans to local utilities to re-lend to local businesses.

Heartland received a Rural Economic Development loan of $400,000 and a grant of $300,000 in 2019 to provide assistance to the City of Volga to make major infrastructure upgrades to help accommodate a new business expansion.  Prairie Aquatech’s 300,000 square foot, $60 million facility will create 35 jobs in the city. 

Heartland’s partnership with USDA has resulted in over $15 million in investments in South Dakota’s rural communities served by the company and the creation of over 125 jobs.

Gross recognized the entire Heartland staff with the award.

“Economic development is a team effort and the entire staff at Heartland is dedicated to helping their customer communities grow and thrive,” Gross said. “It was fitting to present the award at their Summer Conference where they provide resources to communities to further economic development, including promoting USDA’s programs.”

Heartland CEO Russell Olson said the award epitomized Heartland’s relationship with USDA.

“We always say that one of the most important tools for successful economic development is partnerships,” Olson said. “We strive to be a strong partner to our customer communities and utilize our partnership with USDA RD to help them flourish. To be considered a friend of their program is an honor and we are humbled to accept the award.”

The certificate presented to Heartland reads “Heartland Consumers Power Districts is commended for providing assistance and incentives that encourage new businesses, expand existing businesses and create jobs in an effort to grow communities.  As a valued partner, we appreciate the promotion and understanding of our programs.  When rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Heartland is a non-profit, public power utility providing wholesale power and energy to municipal systems, state institutions and other organizations in the region, including the city of Madison.