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USDA Announces Investments in Rural Community Facilities That Will Benefit More Than 761,000 Americans

Stephanie Bittiker
Release Date

Columbia, S.C., Nov. 28, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $291 million to build or improve community infrastructure and essential services for 761,000 residents in 18 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
   “Modern community facilities and infrastructure are key drivers of rural prosperity,” Hazlett said. “As partners to municipal, tribal and nonprofit leaders, we are investing in rural communities to ensure quality of life and economic opportunity now and for generations to come.”

   USDA is investing in 41 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 schools, libraries, courthouses, public safety facilities, hospitals, colleges and day care centers. For example:
• Coker College, located in Hartsville, South Carolina is receiving a $523,300 loan to purchase a three-acre tract next to campus, known as the oil mill property in downtown Hartsville.  The college does not have enough parking on campus to accommodate 1,200 students, faculty and visitors. Purchasing this property will provide the college with needed parking space and allow for future expansion.

• Limestone College, located in Gaffney, South Carolina is receiving a $34.5 million loan to purchase a three-story, 204-bed, 45,000-square-foot student housing facility, construct a 65,000-square-foot library and refinance approximately $7.9 million of debt. The college has been leasing the facility since 2016 from Limestone Student Housing LLC.  Its enrollment of more than 2,560 students ranks it amongst the largest private, regionally accredited institutions in South Carolina. Additional funding for this project includes a $3.5 million USDA Community Facilities loan guarantee and a $4.5 million applicant contribution.

• The Whitesville, South Carolina Rural Volunteer Fire Department will be receiving a $300,000 loan to provide additional financing to construct a fire department facility. The department serves approximately 12,000 residents in the growing Cane Bay area.

   The projects announced today will help improve the quality of life in rural areas in Alaska, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

   More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities program funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.

    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.

   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/sc.