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$244 Million Invested in Rural Nebraska

Vicki Schurman
Release Date
May 13, 2014

USDA Rural Development in Nebraska reports that more than $244 million was invested in the state in federal fiscal year 2013. As outlined in the agency’s recently released Annual Report. The funds assisted in areas of housing, business and community development, energy, and telecommunications.  You can read the report on the web at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Reports/NE_FY13ProgressRpt.pdf

“Nebraska communities, businesses and citizens invested millions of dollars in fiscal year 2013, with the support and resources of USDA Rural Development,” said Nebraska State Director, Maxine Moul.  “Our Nebraska staff strives each year to help build stronger rural communities throughout the state.”

The 2013 Annual Report highlights projects supported in Nebraska. The report shows $136.4 million expended for housing, $44 million for community facilities and water and wastewater projects, $20 million for business, and $43.6 million for rural utility systems.

Homeownership programs had a record year, helping 1,299 families to buy a home. Megan Weatherby, a single mother of two in Plattsmouth, had been renting her home, but was looking for a more permanent place for her children to grow up.  In May 2013, USDA Rural Development provided Megan with a loan through the direct homeownership program, while Southeast Nebraska Community Action (SENCA) subsidized a portion of the purchase and provided a grant for repairs to the home. With the partnership loans, Megan was able to purchase the home she had been renting and her family could continue to live in the neighborhood they loved in Plattsmouth.

Weatherby said, “Being a homeowner to me means taking the first step towards your future.  It means having a constant and safe place for my children to grow up.”  Weatherby continued, “I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to become a homeowner, the American dream as some call it, and to become part of the community.”

Investments in community facilities will benefit 21 communities through $31.2 million for projects like libraries, public safety, community and senior centers, and health facilities. Nearly 13 million assisted in water and wastewater systems in 11 communities to provide safe water treatment.

In McCook, NE, Community Hospital provides critical health services but was in need of major renovations.  The hospital serves 11,500 residents of Red Willow County as well as residents of Frontier, Furnas, Hayes, and Hitchcock counties in Nebraska, as well as Cheyenne, Decatur, and Rawlins counties in Kansas. Community Hospital Association received $35 million to renovate and expand the local hospital and increase its medical workforce.   USDA Rural Development provided a $17 million loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Thayer County Bank of Hebron, Nebraska provided a $15 million loan backed by an USDA Rural Development guarantee.  Thayer County Bank represents a group of Independent Community Banks in Nebraska which teamed up to provide financing for this project.  Today, the hospital is a state-of-the art facility serving rural Nebraskans and Kansans who would otherwise need to travel much further to receive quality care. 

USDA Rural Development also assists communities with telecommunication and education needs. Hartington Telecommunications Co., Inc, will use a $5.3 million loan to serve customers with a state-of-the-art system. To better meet the educational needs of rural Nebraska communities, three Educational Service Units received funds totaling $1.2 million to expand distance learning capabilities.

Rural Development also supports rural small businesses. Eight businesses received $11.9 million for construction, expansion and refinancing, and business development activities.  In addition, 101 agricultural producers and rural small businesses received a total of $1.8 million to install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. When businesses improve energy efficiency, everyone wins.

Laurel Biocomposite, LLC was formed in 2007.Its new plant converts distillers grains, a byproduct of the ethanol process, into a plastic enhancement product. The company completed a private equity drive in July 2012 and raised nearly $6.9 million toward the $11.85 million needed to purchase equipment and provide start-up capital to begin operating.  Working with Security Bank in Laurel, NE, USDA Rural Development provided a $5 million guaranteed loan through the USDA Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee program to purchase equipment for production and to provide working capital during the first year of operation. Laurel Biocomposite is now anticipating full-scale production in 2014 of its Bio-ResTM pellet and powder products, creating nine new jobs.

 Four advanced biofuel producers received $3.3 million in payments to promote sustainable economic development in rural Nebraska.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.