USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Helps Business Maintain Equal Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities
For the last 32 years, Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI), a non-profit social enterprise, has been dedicated to providing job opportunities for people with disabilities. Founded in 1964 by John DuRand as an Occupational Training Center, MDI transitioned into an Affirmative Business in 1978. Company leaders wanted to provide people, specifically people with disabilities, equal opportunity employment.
MDI is an AbilityOne program through which government products and services are set aside for people with disabilities. With locations in St. Paul, Grand Rapids, and Hibbing, MDI currently employs 131 people, 70 of which are people with disabilities.
Using a Business and Industry Loan Guarantee from USDA Rural Development, MDI was able to refinance an existing loan and maintain its mission “to serve people with disabilities by offering progressive development and employment opportunities in competitive business enterprises.”
“It was a matter of survival really,” said Peter McDermott, MDI President and CEO. “Without that loan guarantee, I’m not sure MDI would have survived.”
One of MDI’s largest clients is the United States Postal Service, providing over 74 million large plastic mail totes over the past 20 years. MDI also assembles and shrink-wraps Postal commemorative stamps. However, with the advancement in electronic mail and cellular communication, as well as a declining interest in commemorative stamp collections, the demand for these products and services had also decreased.
“The loan guarantee allowed us to stabilize employment and increase our commercial clientele,” McDermott said. “As a result, we’ve seen an increase in sales from $1.4 million in 2009, to $2.7 million in 2010.”
MDI was also selected to receive Recovery Act funds last year to develop its Partners2Work program, which provides anything from resume development to job placement for people with disabilities that need extra support. MDI works with local community businesses to assist people with disabilities who would like to work in their community.
For more information regarding the products and services of MDI, visit www.mdi.org. To find information on USDA Rural Development Business and Loan Guarantees, as well as other programs and services, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov.