A loan to help build a national brand motel is expected to create jobs and additional economic opportunities in one of South Carolina’s rural areas.
Through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, administered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), a $740,000 interest free loan to Pee Dee Electric Cooperative, Inc. will help with this still-secret project in the Florence area.
USDA State Director, Vernita Dore could not give specifics, but tells SCRN that building a hotel has everything to do with development in a rural area.
People will come, where there is some activity in a rural area, and obviously they’ll need a place to stay. And in this instance, I believe that this hotel will have about 90 or 100 rooms. And again, it will create jobs for those. And anytime you have construction, and this will be new construction, there’s a spin off, there’s a multiplier effect. And you’ll create jobs in more than just the construction arena.
Dore says funding such projects supports and expands additional needs, such as health care and business development. She says under the program, USDA provides zero percent interest loans to local utilities which, in turn, pass to local businesses she calls “Ultimate Recipients.” Their goal is to create projects that will keep employment in rural areas.
Dore says funding is provided to rural projects through local utility organizations– in this case, the Pee Dee Electric Cooperatives, Inc. She says that’s a good thing.
What you’re doing is stretching resources. It shows ownership of this state. It shows ownership of coming together in ways that doesn’t happen too often. You have people coming together for the same cause and basically that’s to create jobs, and that’s to make the area more sustainable and to improve the quality of life for everyone involved, and that is Rural Development’s vision.
Dore points out that any time a federal agency partners with local citizens and non-profits, it not only brings community support, but additional businesses.
This need for a hotel will create jobs, obviously. And then. with the hotel will come some kind of food chain that says, “Hey, you’ve got x brand right here, so let’s do a spin off business. Let’s take care and feed these people that come to the hotel.” And maybe there’s a gas station that says, “Hey, they got to fill up with gas, so let’s do that.” So it’s a spin off.
Prior to overseeing funding for such projects, the USDA Rural Development looks to see if it’s a good investment. Dore says the answer all around for this project is “yes’.
It shows pride in the community. It shows that there’s a reason to invest here, that there’s something good going on, and we hope that it will have a wildfire type effect and that other people will say, “Hey, let’s look at this area.” This is what we hope. We want to build a stable community.
Dore says they aren’t there to tell communities what they need. Instead, when they go into a rural area, they listen . “We have them define what their vision is for their community and then we match that with our products. We tell them what’s available. ”
Additional information is available at their website: www.rurdev.usda.gov/sc