Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett Monday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $17.4 million in 41 projects that will provide essential services for rural communities in 22 states.
“Rural America represents a wealth of opportunity – from farms to tourism, forestry, mining and manufacturing,” Hazlett said. “At USDA, our mission is to be a catalyst to bring those opportunities to life – whether building infrastructure, helping communities to attract jobs, accessing additional capital, or improving the quality of life in these towns.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural areas purchase, construct or improve essential facilities. An essential community facility is one that provides a necessary service for the orderly development or operation of a rural community, such as schools, libraries, health care facilities, day care centers and infrastructure improvements. In Indiana for example:
- The Loogootee Public Library in Loogootee will use a $1.1 million loan to construct a new public library for the 5,853 residents of Rutherford and Perry townships. The current 600-square-foot library is too small and lacks sufficient space for meeting rooms, research, special projects, or computer connections. The upgraded facility will give schools in the area another resource for their students.
- The City of Union City will use a $181,500 loan and $181,000 grant to purchase a new fire truck. This will provide a greatly-needed service for the city to protect and serve its 3,584 residents in rural Randolph County.
- The Lewis Township Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. in Clay County will use a $688,333 loan to assist the Company with supplying fire protection services to the businesses and the 1,464 residents that live within Lewis Township, Clay County. The current fire department building is insufficient to carry out the mission of the fire department because it is too small and the fire trucks and equipment are not easily accessible; this causes lost time to address the needs of the community. The investment will provide the necessary space to store equipment and to access the trucks more easily. The existing building will remain as a community center for Lewis Township.
- The Hanover Educational Properties, LLC in Hanover will use a $4,290,000 loan to obtain, hold, and retain real estate for Hanover College. In order to meet the strategic goal of increased enrollment, the first-year housing dormitories need to be renovated to stay competitive with other colleges and universities in the region. It was deemed advantageous to establish an LLC and first transfer the ownership of Crow Resident Hall to the LLC. The LLC will utilize Rural Development funding for the transfer. The cost savings with a longer term and lower interest rate will free up cash and financially allow the three freshman resident halls to then be renovated, providing quality and affordable housing options for students.
The projects will help improve the quality of life for more than 220,000 rural residents in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for USDA Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill increased the budget for the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.