Since 1997, Prairieland Economic Development Commission in Slayton, Minnesota, has been partnering with USDA Rural Development and local lenders to grow the economy and create jobs in southwestern Minnesota.
Prairieland has financed over 60 rural businesses and helped create hundreds of jobs using funds provided through four Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) awards from Rural Development. Prairieland’s main service area covers southwestern Minnesota and portions of northwest Iowa and eastern South Dakota.
John Padalino, the acting administrator of Rural Development’s business and cooperative programs, visited Worthington, Minn., on May 22 to see firsthand the impact Prairieland’s IRP investments are making in the community.
“It was inspiring to see these entrepreneurs and community leaders in action,” Padalino said. “The public-private-nonprofit partnership on display thanks to Prairieland and the local lending community also was refreshing. By collaborating and thinking regionally, we can do a lot of for job creation in rural America.”
On any given afternoon you can find Phil Smith in front of his computer, tracking the whereabouts of the 85 trucks owned and operated by his family-owned trucking business. Phil’s trucks travel over one million miles per month and deliver general commodities across the entire United States.
Phil started his trucking company in Round Lake and used funds from an IRP and private financing from First State Bank Southwest to relocate to Worthington in 1999. The family-owned operation has received three IRP loans, which helped purchase its Worthington facility, expand it and purchase equipment.
Smith trucking had 35-40 employees before the move. They now employ 125 staff and also operate a truck wash and repair facility.
Ron Prins started a truck repair business out of his home 22 years ago. Using funds from an IRP loan, Prins moved into a shop in Worthington 12 years ago and has watched his business grow steadily.
Ron had five people on staff when he made the move. He now has 22. A subsequent IRP loan in 2005 helped Ron expand his Worthington shop, adding a separate area for displaying parts and accommodating for the growth of his business.
On a sunny spring afternoon in Worthington, there’s a steady stream of people coming in and out of Ron’s store. Customers are consulting with mechanics, buying parts and placing orders.
“I tell my customers that I will try to accommodate any issues that they might have,” Ron said.
Nobles County DAC
Whether he’s visiting local businesses to secure new customers or working with his board on expansion and long-term planning, Bob Schrieber is always on the move.
Bob is the executive director of the Nobles County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) in Worthington, a non-profit organization that provides an array of services for adults with developmental and physical disabilities. The DAC used an IRP loan in 2005 to add 9,000 square feet to its existing facility and hire additional staff.
Through contracts with local businesses, clients of the DAC provide a variety of services both inside and outside of the DAC’s facility. Examples include paper shredding, assembly, housekeeping and janitorial services.
The DAC is licensed for 65 clients and has been growing since receiving the IRP loan.
“There’s a real need in this city for the services we provide,” Schrieber said. “That’s what we’re here for, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
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