We had USDA Rural Development represented here at the Transition To A Bio Economy conference by Tony Crooks. He works with their rural business cooperatives program and has done a lot of work with communities in the area of ethanol and biodiesel.
The challenge he says we have today in rural communities is the large capital outlay to get a biorefinery started so USDA is looking at creative ways to help them. He highly suggests that a community have a community development plan so they can better decide if a plant would be in their best interest. Ways that USDA Rural Development can help is with grants and guaranteed loans. He says they’re looking for communities who need financial assistance, especially in the second generation cellulosic area.
You can listen to my interview with Tony here: [audio:http://www.zimmcomm.biz/farm-foundation/ff-bio-08-crooks.mp3]
You can also download the interview using this link (mp3).