Trump on defense, courting voters in two must-win states

President Donald Trump arrives to speak to a campaign rally at Ocala International Airport, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Ocala, Fla.

NORTHFORK — A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program is investing more than $3.2 million in a loan and two grants to help improve southern West Virginia’s economy by assisting in the development and expansion of small businesses in local communities, USDA officials announced Friday.

“We are pleased to be able to help rural West Virginia organizations and communities who are dedicated to helping the Mountain State remain safe, clean and economically prosperous,” said Kris Warner, state director of USDA Rural Development. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary (Sonny) Perdue, USDA has continued to work untiringly as a strong partner to local businesses and communities because we know that when rural West Virginia thrives, all of America thrives.”

USDA Rural Development awarded loans and grants that will help business efforts in McDowell, Mercer and Monroe counties.

The Ashland Scenic Campground in Northfork was awarded a $3.2 million Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan to construct a new campground registration and welcome center with a store, eight new lodges, an ATV wash station, a playground and entertainment facility. This investment will help create five jobs, USDA officials said.

Tara Elder, director of the Ashland Consulting Group, said the loan guarantee from the USDA will allow to the campground to expand. It currently has a small store, but plans now call for building a new 5,000 square-foot store to help meet the demands of ATV guests. Walking trails are another part of the plans.

“We’re calling it the Cherokee Welcome Center,” Elder said. “We’re right off Cherokee Road.”

The City of Welch was awarded a $25,000 Rural Business Development Grant to create a comprehensive business inventory that will catalogue existing businesses, available store fronts for business expansion and public recreational and tourist attraction amenities. USDA officials said that investment will help save nine jobs.

The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority was awarded a $50,000 Rural Business Development Grant to provide technical assistance to start-up businesses in the counties of McDowell, Mercer and Monroe as well as Braxton, Fayette, Greenbrier, , Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Summers, Webster, and Wyoming counties.

These projects are part of 14 statewide Rural Business Development Grants with a combined total of $627,000 and eight statewide Business and Industry Guaranteed Loans with a combined total of more than $29 million, USDA officials stated.

— Contact Greg Jordan at

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