By Weldon Freeman, Jay Fletcher
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to build the facilities that provide state-of-the-art services to those who depend on them,” Lammers said. “Rural areas thrive when modern and accessible education, health care, public safety and municipal services are available. This provides a foundation for growth and prosperity.”
The 45 projects that USDA announced today are in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. For example:
- HOPE Family Health in Westmoreland, Tenn., will use a $1 million loan to purchase equipment to combat the opioid crisis and to purchase a building that will house the health center. HOPE offers medical, behavioral health, pharmacy and dental services.
- The Lowndes County Commission in Alabama will use a $98,900 loan and a $42,000 grant to obtain video security equipment and jail management records software. The county’s detention facility currently uses a 20-year-old analog video surveillance system. The new digital video security system will improve safety for officers as well as for inmates. The software-based records management system will eliminate paper files and will allow personnel to locate inmate information more quickly.
- Trinidad Area Health Association in Colorado will use a $25.7 million loan to renovate and expand the Mt. San Raphael Hospital. The association will construct a 14-bed medical and surgical unit, a new emergency department with 10 treatment spaces, and a central utilities plant. It also will purchase medical equipment and expand the imaging department.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for funding under USDA’s Community Facilities program. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.
USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Congress appropriated $2.8 billion for Community Facilities direct loans and grants in fiscal year 2019.
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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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 cornerstone recommendation of the task force.