Rural Development is a driving force working behind the scenes in ways that many across the country do not realize. One way Rural Development helps is by supporting small businesses as they grow. Rural Development also assists single families in securing loans and grants to improve their living situations.
One of the main goals of Rural Development is to work to improve not only small businesses but also to engage the communities surrounding the businesses and strengthen the local economies. This goal works hand in hand to the betterment of not just the local economies but the economy statewide.
Cynthia Bohn is one of these small business owners. After retiring from a successful career at IBM, she decided to pursue her dream of starting her own vineyard. Bohn calls Equus Run Vineyard her “happy business,” going on to talk about how she would receive thank you notes and cards from her customers – something she was unfamiliar with during her career with IBM.
Despite being raised on a farm, growing crops and owning farm animals, Bohn did not know how to make wine. After educating herself on the process of making wine, and participating in a work study at Harvard University that helped her to learn more about wine, Bohn set herself up to be better prepared to join the wine industry herself.
The property Bohn grew her first grapes on was in Midway, Kentucky. This was essentially untamed ground that required intense labor and equipment that she did not have access to before the help the local community extended to her. Bohn was almost immediately helped by the local farmers, as they repaired her fencing, lent her equipment for farming and helped her grow crops. The local farmers and community wanted her to succeed and they helped her in every way possible across the entire 38 acre property. They made her a part of their local family and showed immense pride in what they were helping her accomplish. Anything that Bohn lacked in knowledge of wine-making, she made up for in heart and a desire to positively impact her community.
As time passed, Bohn saw opportunities for her business to expand. She turned to USDA Rural Development in 2018 for assistance, in the form of a Value-Added Producer Grant. USDA Rural Development invested in Bohn, after she had filled out a lengthy amount of paperwork and applications, aiding her in creating several jobs, updating equipment, and diversifying her business. She turned the simple barn on the property into an event barn that included a full catering kitchen, a large meeting area and bathrooms for attendees.
With the growth of Equus Run Vineyard comes the growth of the local economy in Midway, KY. The vineyard now hosts weddings, murder mystery dinners, fly-fishing events, and sells products to farmers’ markets and local buyers. Bohn also hosts yoga classes and installed a putting green for avid golfers who wanted to mix the relaxation and craft of wine-making with the art of golf.
This Rural Development support is seen as a huge aid not only to Bohn but to the growth of the economy around Midway, Kentucky. What was once a small, rural town of barely 2,000 people and very little businesses in central Kentucky, is now a community enriched by Equus Run Vineyard.