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Ohio introduces bill to foster private agri investments and RBICs

The bill will make $75 million of “affordable and flexible growth capital” available to Ohio’s agriculture-focused and rural small businesses.

A bill put forward in the Ohio legislature is aimed at providing incentives for private investments into agriculture-focused and rural small businesses.

State Representative Wes Retherford, a Republican who represents Hamilton, introduced the Ohio Rural Jobs Act on Wednesday.

The bill will make $75 million of “affordable and flexible growth capital” available to Ohio’s agriculture-focused and rural small businesses. Each investment requires a 10 percent equity match by investors. Private investments in rural Ohio would be eligible to receive post-performance tax credits.

Retherford said the goal of the bill is to retain more jobs and create new ones in the sector. “Traditional lending and funding from large-scale government programs don’t include the small rural and agriculture-based communities and businesses,” he said in a press release. “After seeing the successes in other states with similar programs, it is time for Ohio to start looking into its own version.”

According to Retherford, all capital must be fully invested within two years — and if investments are repaid or redeemed within a year they must be reinvested. Also the fund must remain 100 percent invested through five years.

Eligible businesses for this programmee must have net income in the prior year of less than $15 million, must have fewer than 250 employees and must be located in a rural area or provides agribusiness goods. They must also be federally certified as United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business Investment Companies (RBIC) or SBA Small Business Investment Companies.