WASHINGTON — Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $91 million to build or improve community facilities (PDF, 108 KB) and essential services for nearly 300,000 rural residents in 12 states.
“Modern community facilities are key drivers of economic development,” Baxley said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building and maintaining these institutions that are foundational to quality of life and prosperity.”
USDA is funding 16 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural small towns, cities and communities make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities such as public schools, libraries, courthouses, public safety facilities, hospitals, colleges and day care centers. For example:
In North Carolina, the town of Spencer will use a $2.5 million loan to renovate a vacant building into space for a new town hall and the police department. This project will benefit 3,267 residents.
Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., will use a $14.5 million loan to construct a facility to house the university’s business and community offices. Currently, the business department uses basement space in another building. The new building will be called the Center for Business and Innovation. This project will serve the rural community’s 15,250 residents.
In Texas, the Coleman County Medical Center District will receive a $13.6 million loan to upgrade the hospital to better serve the 8,895 residents in the county and surrounding communities. The funds will be used to renovate the cardiac rehabilitation, physical therapy and emergency departments. This investment will enhance the hospital’s ability to deliver quality health care and attract and retain physicians and other professional staff.
The projects announced today are located in Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less.
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.