The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $243 million in 50 rural community facility projects in 22 states, with $2.9 million of that total coming to Louisiana.
“USDA Rural Development is helping to fund new infrastructure and infrastructure expansion projects to help modernize and build essential public services such as rural schools, medical clinics, libraries, and much more,” said Louisiana Rural Development State Director Dr. Carrie Castille. “We are committed to long-term targeted investment in rural infrastructure that will ultimately result in more jobs, access to capital, and a better quality of life for rural communities throughout our state.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The recently passed 2018 Omnibus bill increased the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget for the program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
In Louisiana, St. Helena Parish School Board is receiving a $2.9 million loan to renovate and expand the St. Helena Arts & Technology Academy, which is the only elementary school in the parish. The school serves approximately 250 students in kindergarten through grade 6. The school campus is in the community of Greensburg, Louisiana.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for funding, such as schools, health care facilities, libraries and infrastructure improvements. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. There is no limit on the size of the loans. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
In April, Hazlett said USDA will prioritize investments to address the opioid crisis in rural communities. In the Community Facilities Grant Program rural communities, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribes can apply through the usual Community Facilities grant application process for grants up to $150,000 for innovative projects such as mobile treatment clinics. Community Facilities grants may fund up to 75 percent of an eligible project.
Last year, 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, 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.
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 (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/la.