Loan program helps fund fire truck

Loan program helps fund fire truck Main Photo

2 Dec 2019

East Central Energy, economic development

Rush City firefighters recently added a new fire truck to their fleet after being presented with a $252,000 check from East Central Energy (ECE), one of Great River Energy’s 28 member-owner cooperatives. The 2019 Spartan MetroStar Chassis fire truck replaces a 1992 model that had become insufficient in meeting the needs of the growing community.

It was a team effort between the electric cooperatives, Rush City administration and the fire department to secure funding for the new truck. ECE maintains an economic development revolving loan fund (RLF) established through the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program to support economic growth, health and safety in the communities it serves.

The 0% interest loan to Rush City amounts to roughly half the total cost of the new fire truck and was made possible through a new REDLG grant secured with ECE matching funds. Once repaid, the $252,000 will be retained in the ECE revolving loan fund to be used for projects that create or retain jobs in east central Minnesota. Due to ECE’s successful management of the program, the RLF will continue to grow and support future economic development projects for years to come.

For Great River Energy’s part, economic development services staff provided technical review of the grant application, loan packaging and loan closing support for ECE.

“ECE financed a similar truck back in 2003 (for the Rush City Fire Department) and the loan was repaid, allowing these funds to recirculate through the co-op’s revolving loan fund and be reinvested to help support growing businesses and job-creating projects in east central Minnesota,” said Jeff Borling, economic development services lead at Great River Energy.

Great River Energy represents its member-owner cooperatives in economic development activities from the municipal to federal level, providing them with a resource and voice for their interests.

“We advocate for rural economic development among our member cooperatives and provide consultation to them and the local communities they serve,” Borling said.

He added that the fire department’s new truck—which can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute—includes life-saving equipment that will play an important role in protecting businesses and people at the Rush City Industrial Park and neighboring communities, along with commuters and business traffic on Interstate 35.

Those who attended the check presentation included ECE leadership, a USDA representative, members of the fire department and city council, and Isaac Schultz from the office of U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber.

“To the people who made this happen, and the people who worked on it, thank you for what you do,” Shultz said. “It’s great to have a partner in USDA and have a program like this. We want to make sure rural communities thrive.”