USDA invests $243 million in rural community facility improvements in 22 states
WASHINGTON– Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $243 million in 50 rural community facility projects (PDF, 174 KB) in 22 states.
“Rural communities represent a wealth of opportunity,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, USDA is a partner in bringing those opportunities to life – whether attracting jobs, accessing additional capital, or improving the quality of life in these towns through access to modern community services.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The recently passed 2018 Omnibus bill increased the Fiscal Year 2018 budget for the program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for funding, such as schools, health care facilities, libraries and infrastructure improvements. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes in rural areas with a populations of 20,000 or less. There is no limit on the size of the loans. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
Heart 2 Heart in Wheeling, W.Va., is receiving a $2.9 million loan to establish a substance abuse/behavioral health facility serving Ohio County and the surrounding area. The area currently lacks a treatment facility. Heart 2 Heart is a nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping the sick, the elderly and people with disabilities.
The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is receiving a $682,000 loan to purchase an outpatient health care facility in Craig, Colo. The clinic will address a critical need for medical services in rural Moffat County. It will provide preventative and comprehensive care, including behavioral and opioid treatment services.
Louisiana’s St. Helena Parish School Board is receiving a $2.9 million loan to renovate and expand the St. Helena Arts & Technology Academy, which is the only elementary school in the parish. The school serves approximately 250 students in kindergarten through grade 5.
Projects are being announced in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
In April, Hazlett said USDA will prioritize investments to address the opioid crisis in rural communities. In the Community Facilities Grant Program rural communities, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribes can apply through the usual Community Facilities grant application process for grants up to $150,000 for innovative projects such as mobile treatment clinics. Community Facilities grants may fund up to 75 percent of an eligible project.
Last year, 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, 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.
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