USDA Rural Development State Director Chris J. Kanazawa announced today two awards totaling nearly $27 million to support expansion and improvement projects at both University of Guam and Guam Community College.
The University of Guam (UOG) Endowment Foundation was awarded with a $21.7 million Community Facility direct loan for the renovation and expansion of the Student Services Center and for the construction of a new Engineering Annex building on the UOG campus. Likewise, the Guam Community College (GCC) Foundation was awarded a $5 million CF direct loan that will be utilized to harden, renovate, and expand Building 100 and to extend the Gregorio G. Perez Crime Lab building located on the Guam Community College campus.
"USDA is firmly committed to working side-by-side with the residents and community leaders of the Island of Guam to improve the overall quality of life and economic opportunities for the region," Kanazawa said. "Today’s announcement will result in greater access to quality education and local job opportunities important to residents in the region."
Funding for these projects was made possible through the Community Facilities Program. The program makes and guarantees loans to develop essential community facilities in rural areas and towns of up to 20,000 in population. Loans and guarantees are available to public entities such as municipalities, counties and special-purpose districts, as well as to non-profit corporations and tribal governments. Funding is available for fire and police stations, emergency vehicles, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, schools, community centers, public buildings, childcare centers as well as other community-based initiatives.
"These two projects will further enhance the GCC Criminal Justice program by providing a more conducive learning environment to give our graduates the necessary skills to fill the demand for law enforcement and forensic science careers on Guam and in the region," added Dr. Mary Okada, President of the GCC, who sought leveraged financing with USDA for the projects.
"This USDA loan allows the University to grow and meet the needs of our island communities," said Dr. Robert Underwood, President of the University of Guam. "A vibrant campus life, the first generation of island engineers and meeting the needs of a 21st century student body are made possible by this loan. Biba USDA! Biba UOG!"
"The ability to access a good quality education is critical for sustainability in any rural area," said Joe Diego, USDA Rural Development Area Director. "We see these long-term investments not only as a means to expand access to a good, quality education but also as an investment in building a strong community while contributing to a good quality of life for citizens living in Guam and the Western Pacific region."
According to Diego, USDA has supported higher education on Guam since the 1980’s, having funded the construction of the University of Guam Fieldhouse. More recently, USDA awarded loan funds in favor of GCC for the construction of the Learning Resource Center and the Foundation Building at GCC.
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.