The Ohio Valley Resource Conservation & Development (OVRC&D) officially transferred its USDA Rural Development Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OVRDC) on June 30.
The OVRC&D has successfully operated its RLF since receiving its first of three USDA grants in 1999, helping 15 small businesses in southern Ohio during that time. The OVRDC also has a long history of serving small businesses through its existing Economic Development Administration RLF and Appalachian Regional Commission RLF. Seventy-six loans totaling over $5.5 million have been made from OVRDC since the inception of its RLF program. The OVRDC’s RLF Program serves as GAP funding for small businesses in its 12-county service region.
The OVRC&D fund prioritized natural resources-based businesses. The OVRDC plans to manage the fund separately with the same intentions. The OVRDC is excited to receive this new USDA RLF and looks forward to the opportunity to expand its outreach to small businesses. For more information on the OVRDC RLF program visit www.ovrdc.org or call 740-947-2853.
The OVRC&D Council was established in 1977 to address conservation, environmental protection, and economic development needs. It was one of 325 similar councils that partnered with USDA-NRCS after the program’s initiation in 1965. In 2011, in a cost-cutting effort, the federal government removed its support from the program causing many councils to close. The OVRC&D carried on for five years, completing critical projects on its docket. Originally, the OVRC&D was located at the south campus of Southern State Community College before moving to the Scott House in Hillsboro in 2012.
Over the years, the OVRC&D assisted local citizens and units of government to form non-profit organizations and fully develop the projects identified in its local communities. It carried out dozens of watershed-based projects around southern Ohio; working with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and citizens, it assisted in acquiring grants to hire watershed coordinators and apply conservation practices, including projects in Rocky Fork Creek, White Oak Creek, and Ohio Brush Creek. The OVRC&D also administered 15-plus acid mine drainage grants to match state dollars to clean up coal mine sites primarily in the Raccoon Creek watershed in Jackson, Vinton and Hocking counties. Those projects totaled tens of millions of dollars over the past 20 years.
The final on-the-ground project the OVRC&D oversaw was the stream restoration project for the Ursulines of Brown County in St. Martin. That project removed an old silted-in lake that was no longer functioning and re-established the natural stream of Solomon Run. The office also helped organize the formation of the YMCA in Hillsboro and helped landowners with conservation easements among a variety of conservation projects over the years. Many projects the OVRC&D initiated are being passed along to new champions, such as the Revolving Loan Fund. The council is proud of its multitude of partners over its 38 years, and is pleased to see the OVRDC take over this important RLF Fund.
Submitted by Stephanie Gilbert, economic/community development specialist at the OVRDC.