Business & Economy
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Economic Development Funding to Support Business Growth, Create Jobs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 13:15
Funding Also Will Improve Public Transit in Tribal Communities

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of 28 recipients in rural communities for loans and grants to spur economic development and create or save jobs.

"The funding I am announcing today will help rural businesses, entrepreneurs and tribal communities obtain the financing they need to grow their businesses and create jobs," Vilsack said. "These grants and loans represent the Obama Administration's commitment to ensure that rural communities attract capital investments that lead to successful business development, job creation, infrastructure improvements, and economically vibrant communities."

USDA Rural Development is providing the loans and grants through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program, the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP), and the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program.

In Arkansas, Clay County Electric Cooperative Corporation is being selected to receive a $500,000 rural economic development loan. These funds will be relent to the Randolph County Nursing home to finance a new, 140-bed facility in Pocahontas, Ark. This effort is expected to create 15 jobs and save 141 existing ones. Beltrami Electric Cooperative, Inc., in Bemidji, Minn., is selected to receive a $195,108 rural economic development grant to help fund infrastructure improvements for an industrial park in Walker. This project is expected to create 346 jobs. With today's announcement, USDA is providing funding for 19 REDLG projects.

USDA Rural Development's RBEG program is funding nine projects to assist rural businesses and citizens and improve public transit for tribal communities in several states. The RBEG program provides grants to small and emerging rural businesses for projects such as distance learning networks and employment-related adult education programs. Rural public entities (towns, communities, State agencies and municipal authorities), Indian tribes and rural private non-profit corporations are eligible to apply for funding under this program.

For example, the Community Transportation Association of America, Inc. (CTAA) was selected to receive a $250,000 grant to provide technical assistance to develop public transit programs for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan; the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada; the Nooksack Indian Tribe in Washington; the Chickaloon Village Traditional Council in Alaska; the Northern Arapahoe Tribe of Wyoming; the Poarch Band Creek Indians in Alabama; the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians in Oregon; and the Squaxin Island Tribe in Washington.

CTAA was also selected to receive a $500,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to provide technical assistance to enhance public transit in rural communities in Arizona, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Michigan.

The RBEG program is also funding projects in North Dakota and Vermont. For example, the Center for an Agricultural Economy, in Hardwick, was selected to receive a $191,849 grant that will help fund the cost of a full-time advisor who will work with local colleges to advise agricultural and food businesses in the Northeast Kingdom REAP Zone. This project will focus on increasing local processing, distribution and sales of locally-produced food. In Bowman, N.D., the Bowman County Development Corporation was selected to receive a $73,500 grant to purchase digital theatre equipment to lease to the Bowman Theatre. This funding is expected to create four jobs.

USDA's IRP is designed to increase economic activity and employment in rural communities. Under this program, loans are provided to local organizations (intermediaries) to establish revolving loan funds. These revolving loan funds are used to finance business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities. With today's announcement, the Community Resource Group, Inc., in Fayetteville, Ark., was selected to receive a $400,000 loan to provide low-interest loans to rural water and wastewater facilities in counties in the Mississippi Delta. These loans will be used for capital improvements, predevelopment costs and energy efficiency upgrades.

For a list of all recipients selected for funding under today's announcement, please click here. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Eric Dany   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:50

Moline, Illinois - June 25, 2012

The owners of the Fun Co*, Eric W. Dany and Jerry Phillips announced today that the Fun Co* has re-opened at 1520 6th Avenue in downtown Moline, IL.

The original Fun Co* was opened by Dany in Bettendorf in 1991 and ownership passed to Phillips, who eventually relocated the shop in Davenport. After two more successive owners the business has come full-circle and back into the hands of Dany and Phillips.

The Fun Co* carries a large selection of magic tricks, clown supplies, make-up, juggling equipment, novelties, costumes and accessories.

Commenting on the opening, Eric Dany said, “The Quad Cities has a rich history of magicians and magic shops. There has been a magic shop in the Quad Cities for over 100 years.”  Jerry Phillips was quick to add, “We intend to keep that tradition alive in the Quad Cities. The last shop closed a couple of months ago and we recognized there was large customer base here in the Quad Cities that was being ignored.”

Proprietors Jerry Phillips and Eric Dany have many years of experience and have also been performing their magic acts across the Midwest for several decades. Dany is currently the President of the Quad City Magic Club and Phillips is the club’s treasurer.

The local club is affiliated with the world’s largest organization for the magical arts, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, and is known within the organization as Ring #11.  Considering the IBM currently has over 300 Rings, holding the title to Ring #11 shows how long magic has been embedded in our community.

The Fun Co* is one of the few remaining brick and mortar magic shops in the country. The magic shops demise is related to the migration of sales to the internet. That doesn’t concern Dany and Phillips because they will soon have an online storefront enabling them to market their magic props on a national scale.

The store is open Wednesday through Friday afternoons and on Saturday. A visit to The Fun Co* will definitely put a smile on your face. Come in and you’ll be mystified, entertained and you may even learn a trick to perform for your friends.

Europe’s Troubles, Fiscal Responsibility PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Chuck Grassley   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:37

Floor Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Europe’s Troubles, Fiscal Responsibility

Monday, June 25, 2012

Since the victory of the Socialist candidate for President of France, opponents of fiscal responsibility have found a renewed vigor for their pro-spending ideology.  The new French President talks about choosing growth over austerity.  Many liberal pundits and politicians on this side of the Atlantic have now begun to echo this call.  When you put it that way, it barely sounds like a choice at all.  The term austerity sounds so severe but almost everyone agrees that economic growth is good.  Just what is austerity anyway?  In Europe, austerity is often used to describe an attempt to reduce budget deficits by reining in unsustainable spending.  In this country, we more often talk about fiscal responsibility.  For Europeans who have grown accustomed to generous social benefits, even modest reforms to government programs are apparently cause to take to the streets.  But, for the millions of Americans who still believe in limited government and who do not feel entitled to programs or benefits paid for by the earnings of others, there’s nothing “austere” about government spending within its means.

So what about growth?  The implication of the supposed choice between growth and austerity is that we must accept irresponsible levels of spending in order to have economic growth.  This absurd but politically convenient economic theory was summed up by Margaret Thatcher as, “The more you spend, the richer you get.”  It was the rationale behind President Obama’s massive $800 billion stimulus bill.  The bill looked suspiciously like a grab bag of pent up Democrat spending priorities, but we were told that all of this spending was necessary to keep unemployment below 8 percent.  Of course, as we all know, unemployment soon soared well above 8 percent and has never dipped below 8 percent more than three years later.  I would say to all those in Europe calling for new stimulus spending, we tried it and it didn’t work.  Not only didn’t it work, but it made things worse.  All that government spending crowded out private sector activity that would have helped the recovery and saddled our economy and our grandchildren with even more debt.  Conversely, reining in government spending will unleash the power of free enterprise to create wealth and grow our economy in ways that no government central planner can.

Despite the clear results of the most recent American experience with stimulus spending, liberal pundits are now blaming Europe’s current economic troubles on efforts to reduce government spending.  They say that savage cuts by pro-austerity governments in countries like Britain, France, and Spain have actually damaged their economies.  So just how deep did these countries cut?  Spain increased spending after the recession started, then implemented some modest cuts, but is still spending more than it did before the recession.  Britain and France have continued to increase spending.  So much for savage spending cuts.  I know that in this town, a smaller increase in spending than previously planned can qualify as a cut.  However, to most Americans, cutting spending actually means spending less than you were before.

The fact that there have been no serious spending cuts in these supposedly pro-austerity countries is enough to dismiss the accusation that spending cuts are the cause of Europe’s current troubles.  But there’s another part of the story that is too often ignored.  Governments that talk about the need to reduce deficits but are too timid to enact the necessary spending cuts invariably turn to tax increases.  For instance, since the recession started, Britain has raised the top marginal income tax rate as well as increased the capital gains tax, national insurance tax, and value-added tax.  Spain has enacted hikes in personal income tax and property taxes and is planning more.  This year, the Spanish Government is looking to address its deficit with a $19.2 billion package of spending reductions paired with another $16 billion worth of tax increases.  That sounds a lot like what Democrats have been calling a balanced approach.  And so it is… just like giving a patient an equal dose of medicine and poison would be a balanced approach.  However, across Europe, there has been a lot more emphasis on the poison of tax increases than the medicine of spending cuts.  In fact, while government spending across the entire European Union fell by just 2.6 billion Euros between 2010 and 2011, taxes rose by a staggering 235.5 billion Euros.  So, while critics of austerity are flat out wrong to blame the largely mythical spending cuts for Europe’s economic troubles, they may have stumbled on something.  To the extent that austerity really means big tax increases rather than serious spending cuts, we’ve identified a big part of Europe’s problem.

These facts notwithstanding, if I couldn’t point to any example where economic growth resulted from spending restraint, my argument would ring hollow.  I would sound like those radical intellectuals who still refuse to accept that Marxism has been totally discredited both morally and economically by claiming that it has never truly been tried.  However, what I’m talking about has been tried.  There are plenty of examples where bold leadership to dramatically rein in government spending has resulted in economic growth.

There is actually a prime example right in Europe and in the Euro area - Estonia.  In response to the 2008 economic crisis, Estonia’s free enterprise-oriented government focused on real spending cuts, including major structural reforms.  They cut public sector wages, raised the pension age, and reformed health benefits.  When it comes to taxes, Estonia already had a low flat tax and didn’t raise rates.  While there was an increase in value added tax, the overwhelming emphasis was on spending cuts.  As a result, the Estonian economy grew at 7.6 percent last year.  Estonia is the only country in the Eurozone with an actual budget surplus and the country has a national debt that is only six percent of GDP.  Can you imagine that?  Moreover, Estonia had an especially deep hole to climb out of.  The Estonian economy was devastated by the global financial crisis.  It contracted by 18 percent, which is more than Greece.  Nevertheless, Estonia’s economy is well on its way back to pre-recession levels.  I should add that in response to the spending cuts, Estonians didn’t riot in the streets.  Instead, they re-elected their government.  Also, while Estonia is the most impressive example, a similar story also holds true for Latvia and Lithuania.  Perhaps their unhappy experience of Soviet domination has made them extra skeptical of big government solutions to problems.

It’s possible that the unique history of the Baltic countries makes it easier for them to break the spending addiction, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done here.  In fact, I’ll give you an example that is much closer to home- Canada.  In the 1990s, Canada was facing the same problem the United States is now.  It suffered a recession and had a looming debt crisis.  The Canadian government’s response was to dramatically cut spending.  Again, I’m not talking about slowing the rate of growth, but actual spending cuts.  In just two years starting in 1995, total noninterest spending fell by 10 percent.  Canadian federal spending as a share of GDP dropped from 22 percent in 1995 to 15 percent by 2006.  Canada’s federal debt was at 68 percent of GDP in 1995 and is down to just 34 percent today.  Compare than to our national debt, which is more than 70 percent of GDP.  Like Estonia, the overwhelming emphasis in Canada was on spending cuts rather than tax increases.  Moreover, these cuts included structural reforms.  Canada’s government fixed its version of Social Security, which is the third rail in American politics.  Unlike Social Security, the Canada Pension Plan is solvent for the foreseeable future.  What’s interesting is that these reforms were not implemented by some right-wing ideologues.  These reforms were all implemented by the Canadian Liberal Party, which is a center-left party like America’s Democrats.  However, when President Bush suggested fixing Social Security, the issue was relentlessly demagogued by the Democrats.  More recently, when Paul Ryan unveiled a plan to save Medicare, rather than present alternative ideas, liberal groups depicted him in political advertisements pushing a grandmother off a cliff.  If our Democrats had shown the same leadership that Canada’s Liberals did, we would be in a lot better economic shape right now.  Instead, what we get from the other side of the aisle is demands for more stimulus spending and a head-in-the-sand denial about the impending bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security.

There are plenty of other examples where low taxes and spending restraint have led to an economic recovery after a downturn.  In fact, a 2009 paper by two Harvard economists, Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna, reviewed 107 examples of fiscal adjustments in industrialized countries between 1970 and 2007.  They found that, statistically, tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than spending.  They also found that spending cuts without tax increases are more likely to reduce deficits and debt than tax increases.

The historical record is clear.  We know what path leads to economic growth and prosperity.  However, it isn’t an easy one.  Unlike the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too philosophy that says more government spending will somehow make us all richer, the real road to recovery will require real leadership.

Earlier I mentioned Margaret Thatcher’s contempt for the Stimulus Ideology.  When she took office, Britain was deep in debt and known as “The Sick Man of Europe.”  In fact, Britain had been forced to go to the IMF for a bailout and was regularly rocked by massive strikes.  In many ways, it was the Greece of the 1970s.  When Thatcher began making the difficult decisions necessary to rescue the British economy, many people, including some in her own party, pleaded for her to return to the big spending policies of previous governments.  Her response is as applicable to the United States today as it was to Britain back then:

“If spending money like water was the answer to our country's problems, we would have no problems now.  If ever a nation has spent, spent, spent and spent again, ours has.  Today that dream is over.  All of that money has got us nowhere but it still has to come from somewhere.  Those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that it will help the unemployed and the small businessman are not being kind, or compassionate, or caring.  They are not the friends of the unemployed or the small business. They are asking us to do again the very thing that caused the problems in the first place.”


Loans to luxury car maker scrutiny continues PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:04

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grassley, Thune Continue to Seek Answers on Federal Loan to Luxury Car Maker

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. John Thune today sent a follow-up letter to the Department of Energy again requesting that the Obama Administration explain its selection of a luxury automaker – now described as “troubled” -- for a $529 million federal loan for advanced technology vehicles manufacturing.  The federal government made part of the loan to the Fisker Automotive Corporation, then froze the remaining portion, raising questions about whether the company was vetted properly in the first place.  Grassley and Thune originally sent a letter on April 20 to the Energy Department asking for information regarding the troubled loan.  The department’s response on May 18 lacked much of the requested information.

“The response doesn’t address the questions we asked regarding the accuracy of the department’s statistics.  That’s cause for concern,” Grassley said.  “There’s also a lot of discussion of the due diligence that went into making the loan but no evidence to show what that due diligence actually was.  The riskiness of loans to companies that may or may not be able to pay them back deserves scrutiny.  The taxpayers can’t and shouldn’t have to subsidize these decisions.”

“After promising to be the most open and transparent administration in history, it’s unfortunate that with millions of taxpayer dollars at stake the Obama administration will not answer our specific questions about the troubled Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, said Thune. “The Department of Energy’s response is evasive at best and fails to address the questionable details surrounding the taxpayer-backed loan granted to Fisker to make a luxury car. I will continue to work with Senator Grassley to get the answers that taxpayers expect and deserve.”

The senators’ latest letter is available here.  The Energy Department’s response is available here.  The senators’ initial letter is available here.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 required the creation of a direct loan program from the federal government to car companies through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing incentive program.   Fisker’s two planned vehicles would sell for more than $100,000 and about $50,000.  The high retail prices seem to indicate the vehicles would be out of reach for most Americans, thereby seeming like a questionable choice of investment for a federal program.  Also, the senators questioned whether the company’s vehicle production in Finland diminishes the goal of developing advanced vehicle technology to create jobs in the United States.


MONDAY: Braley in Cedar Rapids to Discuss Veterans’ Job Creation at Alliant Energy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:25

Alliant has been recognized for efforts to hire returning veterans 

Washington, DC – On Monday, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will visit Alliant Energy’s Cedar Rapids Operations Center to discuss veterans’ job creation and the company’s success hiring returning veterans.

Braley will tour the facility, discuss veterans hiring with company officials and employees, and hold a media availability.

Braley has made reducing the unemployment rate among veterans a key focus of his job creation efforts.  In 2011, Braley introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, a precursor to two bipartisan tax credits ultimately signed into law that provided incentives to businesses that hire veterans.  In October 2011, Braley hosted a field hearing in Waterloo focused on the unemployment rate among veterans.  And last month, Braley introduced the Veterans Jobs Corps Act, a program to put veterans back to work improving national parks and serving as police officers and firefighters.

Monday June 25, 2012


9:30am                 Braley Visits Alliant Energy’s Cedar Rapids Operations Center

1001 Shaver Rd. NE

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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