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USDA Community Facilities Funding Benefits Ohio Fire District, Schools

Heather Hartley
Release Date

Ohio Rural Development State Director David L. Hall today announced three U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Facilities program investments totaling more than $65 million that will help offset the cost of new construction at Tiffin-based Heidelberg University, the Bascom Joint Fire District in Seneca County, and Geauga County’s Berkshire School District.

   “Ohio Rural Development takes seriously its commitment to champion projects that promote the growth and revitalization of essential community facilities such as schools and public safety buildings,” said Hall. “This infrastructure funding will have a positive, long-term impact on thousands of Ohio students and rural citizens, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

   Nationwide, USDA is investing $291 million in 41 projects through its Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. In addition to schools and public safety buildings, the funding helps rural small towns, cities and communities make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities such as libraries, courthouses, hospitals and day care centers.

   “Modern community facilities and infrastructure are key drivers of rural prosperity,” said Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. “The funding I am announcing today demonstrates USDA’s commitment, under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, to helping ensure that rural areas are attractive places to live, work and raise a family.”

In Ohio:

  • Heidelberg University will use its $36.5 million investment to construct a student and community welcome center, as well as to build or renovate student housing and classrooms. This nonprofit university is a four-year, private liberal arts institution with an enrollment of about 1,200. The school also is home to the congressionally-commissioned National Center for Water Quality Research, which plays a vital role monitoring aquatic ecosystems such as the Western Basin of Lake Erie.
  • The Berkshire Local School District will use its $28 million investment to construct a 168,000-square-foot building to house nearly 1,000 pre-Kindergarten – grade 12 students. This innovative project heralds a first-ever collaboration between USDA and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), an organization established in 2012 by the Ohio Legislature to help guide capital construction and renovation projects for the state's public elementary, secondary, and post-secondary school systems. The new building will feature career tech spaces for diesel mechanics and nursing education, and a 650-seat auditorium. It will be co-located with Kent State University's Geauga and Regional Academic Center in Burton.
  • The Bascom Joint Fire District will use its $710,000 investment to help finance the construction of an 11,500-square-foot building which will provide first responder services to more than 8,400 residents of the Village of Bascom, along with Hopewell, Liberty, Loudon and Jackson Townships in Seneca County. These funds complement an earlier USDA Community Facilities loan in the amount of $2,047,000. 

   Other Community Facilities projects announced nationwide 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, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, 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.