On May 7, 2020 in California, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) announced a new $17 million program to help revitalize their rural forest-based economy. The program will provide loans to increase the use of low- and no-value wood from Tuolumne County forests and provide an alternative to pile burning of forest waste.
“We’re thrilled to be working with RCAC on this program to boost the restoration economy in Tuolumne County,” said SNC Executive Officer Angela Avery.
“SNC is hearing from communities across the Sierra Nevada that the timing couldn’t be better to invest in job creation and forest resilience,” she added.
The loans are available to small businesses, nonprofits and public entities including federally recognized Tribes that are located in or locating to Tuolumne County. Applicants are required to provide new, permanent job opportunities, predominantly for low- and moderate-income individuals.
HCD received an award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Community Development Block Grant – National Disaster Resilience funding to demonstrate how expanding biomass-based businesses could make Tuolumne County more resilient as it continues to rebuild from the devastation of the 2013 Rim Fire.
“This funding for loans will go far to meet the state’s goal of creating resilience in the county and can serve as a model that can be replicated in other parts of the state,” said Jennifer Seeger, HCD’s Acting Deputy Director for HCD’s Division of Financial Assistance.
HCD partnered with SNC to lead the effort to establish a new Biomass Utilization Fund to encourage the use of forest biomass and increase community and forest resilience.
“RCAC is honored and enthused to manage the loan making process for this important endeavor to further Tuolumne County’s resilience and rebuilding effort. We have a number of business loan products that we believe will complement Biomass Utilization Fund resources and further the goal of creating jobs for county residents,” said RCAC Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Anarde.
HCD and SNC have entered into an agreement with RCAC to manage the Biomass Utilization Fund. Applications are being accepted now, and all applications received by June 12, 2020 will be given the same consideration. Applications received after June 12 will be evaluated based on the availability of funds. Recipients of Biomass Utilization Fund loans must document job creation and expend all funds by April 30, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Tuolumne County.