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$17 Million Program Incentivizes Ways To Use Wood Waste

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Sacramento, CA — Those interested in turning low or no-value wood from Tuolumne County forests into a business opportunity can tap a new $17 million program.

On Wednesday, officials at the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC), and Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) provided details of the program. It is intended to help reduce the burning of forest waste by incentivizing small businesses, nonprofits and public entities, including federally recognized Tribes to access loans earmarked for those finding alternative uses for the waste woods.

Among the caveats, interested applicants must already be located in or moving to the county and provide new, permanent job opportunities, predominantly for low- and moderate-income individuals.

The nexus for the monies is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provided Community Development Block Grant – National Disaster Resilience funding to HCD as a way to show how expanding biomass-based businesses could make Tuolumne County more resilient as it continues to rebuild from the devastation of the 2013 Rim Fire.

HCD and SNC partnered to lead the effort, establishing a new Biomass Utilization Fund, which is being used to encourage using forest biomass to help increase community and forest resilience.

Seeking To Create A Sustainability Model

“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,” explains Jennifer Seeger, HCD’s Acting Deputy Director for HCD’s Division of Financial Assistance.

HCD and SNC have an agreement for RCAC to manage the fund. Applications are now being accepted through June 12. Those received after that time will be evaluated based on the availability of funds. Loan recipients must document job creation and expend all funds by April 30,2022.

“We’re thrilled to be working with RCAC on this program to boost the restoration economy in Tuolumne County,” states 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.”

“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,” adds RCAC Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Anarde.

More information about the loans and application materials are available by clicking here. RCAC and SNC are also hosting a May 12 webinar for interested parties to learn more. To register click here or call 916 447-9832, ext. 1429.

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