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Singing River helps land loans in South Mississippi

LUCEDALE — Singing River Electric has presented $1.1 million in zero-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Service to Jones County Junior College (JCJC) and a $740,000 zero-interest loan to Mississippi Export Railroad for a project in Jackson County.

JCJC will use the $1.1 million to construct a 15,800-square-foot Learning Center adjacent to the Greene County Vo-Tech facility just west of Leakesville. This center will house two industrial labs, classrooms and high-speed Internet computer labs.

Lee Hedegaard, general manager of Lucedale-based Singing River, said, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand the educational resources available to the people of Greene County right in their own back yard.”

JCJC is currently operating a pipefitting class and a welding class in Greene County in borrowed space at the local Vo-Tech center and in local school classrooms and churches. This new facility will address the needs of the community including ongoing demand for vo-tech classes and the need for skilled workers as a result of business expansion occurring within commuting distance of Greene County.

The Mississippi Export Railroad will use the $740,000 to construct a new 40,000-square-foot bulk storage warehouse facility in its Helena Industrial Park near Moss Point.

“We are glad to be a part of the further development of the Helena Industrial Park and all the economic development opportunities that it will bring to Jackson County,” said Hedegaard.

Singing River does not fund these loans, but applies for the loan and passes it through to the recipient in order to help fund their approved economic development project. The purpose of the Rural Economic Development (RED) Loan and Grant program is to leverage private and other public funding to expand the economic base of rural communities. Under the RED loan program, USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities, which in turn pass through the loans to local businesses for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.

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