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USDA invests $871 million in rural community facilities in 43 states, Guam

(AP)
Published: Nov. 7, 2020 at 1:44 PM CST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIBW) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $871 million in rural community facilities in 43 states and Guam.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it is investing $871 million to improve critical community facilities that will benefit 3.5 million rural residents in 43 states and Guam.

“Rural America needs safe, modern community infrastructure to help residents and businesses achieve greater prosperity and have access to essential services,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong partner to rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

According to Brand, essential community projects receiving funding are in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The USDA said it is funding 256 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. It said the investments will build or upgrade schools, libraries, clinics and public safety facilities. It gives the following examples:

  • In Ohio, the Big Walnut Joint Fire District will use a $2.3 million loan to build a fire station. It currently operates two facilities: one in Marengo, and another in Chesterville. Built more than a century ago, the Chesterville Fire Station no longer supports modern-day firefighting operations. The sole vehicle bay lacks the proper height clearance, which has led to vehicle and equipment damage. Additionally, the station’s frontage on State Route 314 creates a safety hazard for vehicles leaving or entering the grounds. The new station will be built just north of the old facility on a two-acre site acquired from the local school district. It will feature three bays, a kitchen, bunk room, gear storage room, bathrooms, a decontamination room, offices for administrative work, a training room and a tornado shelter – all meeting modern code and accessibility standards.
  • In Michigan, the Bay Mills Indian Community will use a $6 million loan to construct a 34,000-square-foot medical office building in the Eastern Upper Peninsula in Chippewa County. The Bay Mills Indian Community Reservation is located in a federally designated Medically Underserved Area and a Health Professional Shortage Area for primary care, dental and mental health. More than 20 percent of the community’s residents are people with disabilities. This investment will help provide medical, dental, pharmacy, lab, imaging, behavioral health, optical, community health and traditional healing services.
  • The Ridgeview Global Studies Academy in Davenport, Fla., will use a $4.9 million loan to construct a 21,000-square-foot, two-story building of classrooms, a science lab, a multi-purpose/dining area and administrative offices. This facility will be connected to the campus by a covered walkway. The new facility will have space for 250 students in grades nine and 10.
  • In East Baton Rouge Parish, La., Hospital Service District 1 is receiving a $61 million loan to renovate 37,000 square feet of the hospital and add an 82,000-square-foot, four-story medical tower. The addition will include 48 acute patient care rooms, surgical and intensive care units, nurse’s stations and administrative areas. The hospital employs more than 850 people. The expanded facility will provide a variety of specialized care to better serve the community.

According to the USDA, over 100 types of projects are eligible for funding. It said eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. It said projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.

The USDA said interested parties should contact their Rural Development state office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility details. It said a detailed overview of the application process can be found here.

The USDA said Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. It said the assistance helps infrastructure improvements, business developments, housing, community facilities and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

For more information, click here.

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