BERRYVILLE – An upcoming presentation in Clarke County will detail USDA rural development programs and services, including those through which people can obtain financial assistance for business operations.
The presentation will take place from 9 a.m. to noon on December 13 at the Barns of Rose Hill on Chalmers Court in Berryville, next to the Berryville-Clarke County Government Center. It is open to people from all over the North Shenandoah Valley.
Rural Development is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture focused on improving the economy and quality of life in rural areas. Its services include the provision of grants, loans and loan guarantees for providers of essential services such as agriculture, housing, economic development, health care and water, electricity infrastructure and communication.
During the presentation, staff from the Rural Development Office in Lexington will discuss the programs they oversee. Attendees will be able to talk one-on-one with them, according to Felicia Hart, director of economic development and tourism for Clarke County.
The Rural Development website details many assistance programs.
However, “with many government (websites) there is so much technically worded information that it becomes overwhelming” for readers, Hart said.
Talking with those administering the programs can foster a better understanding of what help is available and how to get it, she said.
The information discussed during the presentation could benefit a variety of people, Hart continued, including landowners, farmers, farmers’ market operators, real estate agents and bankers, as well as small or large business owners. considering expansions or new equipment purchases.
A farmer could, for example, receive a loan through rural development to buy a tractor or land.
Yet rural development programs are “not just for farmers and farms,” Hart pointed out. She said, for example, that a developer might get help building an apartment complex, or a local government might get help building new government offices.
While individuals can get help for themselves, bankers attending the presentation will learn about programs they can refer people to, she said.
“It’s just another tool in their belt when working with clients,” Hart added.
The presentation is organized by the Clarke County, Frederick County and Winchester County Economic Development Offices, Laurel Ridge Small Business Development Center (Community College), Blue Ridge Association of Realtors and the Regional Commission of North Shenandoah Valley.
Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to RSVP by December 9 to [email protected] Those with questions can contact her at this email address or by calling 540-533-5561.