Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced investments in 33 states and one territory that will create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural communities across the nation.
"These projects not only provide needed infrastructure in rural communities, they contribute to the Obama administration's continued efforts to create quality jobs and improve the nation's economy," Vilsack said. "The projects announced today will help strengthen facilities and amenities in rural towns and small cities."
For example, the city of Blockton, Iowa, was selected to receive a $50,000 grant that will be used to purchase a fire truck. Currently, the fire department has just one pumper truck to cover a 70 square mile area. Also in Iowa, the city of Akron was selected to receive a $4 million direct loan that will be used to help build a 45-bed nursing home. In addition to the jobs created as a result of the construction, the project will save 60 existing, permanent jobs.
In Gray, Ky., KCEOC Community Action Partnership, Inc. was selected to receive a $50,000 grant to replace a roof on a child development and community center in Harland County, a persistent poverty county. The center has 88 children enrolled in its programs and community groups use the center for community, educational and recreational activities.
Great Plains Health Alliance Inc, in Phillipsburg, Kan.,was selected to receive a $3 million loan and a $2.2 million loan guarantee to purchase health records equipment and software for rural hospitals. When completed, the project will offer clinical telemedicine services, including real-time virtual consultations, diagnostic examinations, digital diagnostic imaging, remote monitoring and other specialty services. The project is expected to create or save an estimated 41 jobs.
The $46.8 million announced today is being funded through the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program. Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement. USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program helps finance essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. These facilities include child care centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted-living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, community centers, public buildings and transportation. Through this program, USDA ensures that such facilities are available to all rural residents. These funds are available to public bodies, non-profit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes.
Today's announcement is part of a series of rural infrastructure investments expected by Secretary Vilsack during the next two weeks. This effort supports the goal of the American Jobs Act, which makes critical infrastructure improvements to put people back to work immediately.
On September 8, President Obama presented the American Jobs Act in an address to Congress. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. The American Jobs Act is specific. It will put people back to work right now, and it will not add to the deficit. Through a combination of direct spending, such as infrastructure investments, and tax relief, such as an extension of the payroll tax cuts, it will lead to new American jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21 direct or indirect jobs are created for each $1 million invested in infrastructure.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.