Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley Wednesday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $68 million to build or improve community facilities and essential services for nearly 715,000 rural residents in 13 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
“Having access to high-quality education, health care, public safety, community infrastructure and municipal services is crucial to achieving prosperity,” Baxley said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural community leaders to improve quality of life and economic development in rural America by building or modernizing the essential community facilities that provide these building-block opportunities.”
USDA is funding 20 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural small towns, cities and communities make infrastructure improvements. For example:
- The city of Atka, Alaska, will receive a $3 million loan to help build a new 3,850-square-foot community health clinic. Atka is an extremely isolated community on the Aleutian chain. The current clinic is the only one within a 350-mile radius, is in disrepair and does not meet the community’s health care needs. The new facility will provide primary and preventative care, integrated behavioral health, dental, optometry and emergency care.
- In North Carolina, the town of Winfall is receiving an $85,000 loan to purchase a multi-use fire and rescue vehicle for the fire department. The vehicle will provide reliable transportation and contain equipment to fight and contain small fires and respond to other emergencies.
The projects announced today are in rural communities in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Texas.
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 cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.
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.