Last month Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett 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, in Alaska:
This Rural Development direct loan investment will be used to provide additional financing for an 18,500-square-foot multi-purpose building for the city and borough of Yakutat. The multi-purpose building will house the tribal offices and the community health clinic. The Yakutat Tlingit Tribe owns and operates the only health care facility in the borough. The Tribe has been renting space for the clinic and tribal offices for several years. This additional funding will enable the tribe to stop renting space for its offices and will enable all tribal employees to be under one roof. The current clinic is also too small to adequately meet the needs of the community. The new facility will provide expanded hours and will extend health care service, including primary, urgent and dental care, behavioral health and a wellness center supporting the preventive health component of the facility. In addition, a much needed holding space, morgue and collocated itinerant staff quarters will greatly increase the clinic functionality. Additional financing includes $45,180 from Sea Alaska, $1 million from the Health Resources and Services Administration, $100,000 from the city of Yakutat, $250,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, $500,000 from the Rasmuson Foundation, $6,387,170 from a USDA Community Facilities direct loan, $3 million from Northrim Bank and a $630,000 applicant contribution.
The projects announced 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.