Earlier this month, Revolving Loan Fund partners representing 13 Maine Intermediaries and 8 Microenterprise Development Organizations gathered at the USDA State Office in Bangor to listen to and share ideas for investing in rural Maine businesses. This meeting was one of dozens of Revolving Loan Fund Roundtables taking place around the country to assist USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) and Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) providers share Best Practices and challenges encountered in financing business projects in rural areas. In Maine, there is approximately $9.3 million in existing revolving loan funds for credit-worthy businesses seeking capital.
This Roundtable provided for an important discussion on how our critical Revolving Loan Fund partners can put these existing dollars to work in Maine’s rural communities, to assist more rural businesses and help create and retain jobs in Maine’s rural areas.
In just the past five years, this successful revolving loan program has provided a total of $10.7 million through 14 intermediaries, assisting 150 rural Maine businesses and helping to create and retain thousands of jobs.
One vibrant example of how IRP funds are having a major impact on rural communities is Axiom Technologies. This downeast rural business was assisted through the Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC), which received USDA Rural Development IRP funds in the amount of $260,000. SCEC has really made these dollars count in Washington County, one of Maine’s most economically-challenged counties. To date, it has provided loans to assist a tidal renewable energy business in Eastport and two women-owned businesses – a broadband service provider (Axiom Technologies) in Machias and a restaurant in Pembroke, creating and saving jobs in one of Maine’s most rural counties.
Machias-based Axiom Technologies is a true woman-owned, rural business success story. This essential broadband provider has been creating and developing solutions for rural broadband deployment since 2005. Recently, Axiom Technologies had the opportunity to purchase the building it had been leasing. They had to close on the property within 45 days. Intermediary Sunrise County Economic Council was able to provide funds though the IRP Program, lending Axiom the funds needed to close on the project in the short timeframe, and finally giving Axiom Technologies a place to call home.
Owner Susan M. Corbett said, “The work Axiom does creates high-impact economic development, because of the vital role we play in the technology needs of rural businesses. The acquisition of our new building ensures long-term sustainability, with a permanent home for Axiom. We are incredibly grateful for the work of our economic development partners, including USDA Rural Development, Sunrise County Economic Council, and Northern Maine Development Commission.”
To find out more about USDA’s business programs click here.