Since 1990, Federated Rural Electric of Jackson has offered more than $3.6 million in low- or no-interest loans to help businesses in its territory become established or expand.
The latest benefactor of the program is AGCO.
Officials with Federated REA and USDA Rural Development on Monday presented AGCO with a $740,000 no-interest loan for up to 10 years. The loan will be directly applied to a major expansion project nearing completion on the AGCO Jackson campus.
Federated REA acted as a pass-through agency for the revolving loan funds, which were made available by USDA Rural Development as a result of federal legislation in the farm bill. Richard Burud, general manager of Federated REA, said the city of Jackson had final authority on the loan request.
Eric Fisher, director of AGCO Jackson Operations, spoke of the progress made since the January 2011 announcement that the manufacturing company was going to add approximately 75,000 square feet of production space and a state-of-the-art showroom on the Jackson campus.
The expansion was tied to the company’s new manufacturing lines, the 8600 and 6400 series of Massey Ferguson wheel tractors, and increased production of the Challenger MT600C series and select models of the MT500 and 7400 series of track tractors.
The first Massey Ferguson tractor rolled off the assembly line on Jan. 4 and stood as the backdrop to Monday morning’s check presentation.
The tractor is filled with the autographs of all the production workers who had a hand in building it.
“This will be one of the display tractors in the Intivity Center,” Fisher said.
Production of the new lines of Massey Ferguson 8600 series and Challenger MT600 series of tractors has reached approximately 50 tractors being built per month. That will continue to grow.
“When we get full-year basis, approximately 2,500 tractors this year (will be manufactured) out of the Jackson plant,” said Fisher, adding that the quantity represents double the number of tractors produced by the plant a year ago.
Meanwhile, the workforce has increased from 850 to 1,100 workers, and more are still needed. Fisher said AGCO Jackson has about 40 positions currently open to individuals with specific skills.
Colleen Landkamer, state director of USDA Rural Development, said Monday was an exciting day for AGCO and the city of Jackson.
“The revolving loan fund is a gift that keeps on giving,” she said. “We’re just excited that we can play a piece in this. Partnerships … make a huge difference.”
Peder Kjeseth, representing Rep. Tim Walz from the 1st Congressional District, said economic development programs like those offered by USDA Rural Development are like community development programs because of the economic impact realized. AGCO’s expansion will bring new people to the community, which means more people requiring local services and adding to the tax base.
The USDA Rural Development’s Rural Economic Development loan program utilized for the AGCO project is available only to rural utilities program borrowers who agree to be a pass-through to local businesses and organizations for projects that create and retain jobs, upgrade public infrastructure, improve service delivery and improve the quality of life for area residents and visitors.
Adam Czech, USDA public information coordinator, said funds from the program are available throughout the state. It can be a source of gap financing for a business hoping to expand, or help provide start-up for a new business. The amount of money available to loan out through the revolving loan fund varies by county.
For AGCO, the loan to complete the financing for its expansion comes at a good time.
“The ag industry is very robust right now, and there is tremendous excitement in bringing this (Massey Ferguson) line back to North America,” Fisher said.
A large celebration for the completion of the expansion and debut of the Intivity Center is planned from 9 to 11:30 a.m. June 9 at the AGCO Jackson campus. The open house for employees, their families and the general public will include tours of the entire campus, starting in the new Intivity Center.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve got here and would love for the public to have an opportunity to come and see it,” Fisher added.