Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that USDA invested in nearly 400 projects to provide essential services for more than 7 million people in rural areas across the country in Fiscal Year 2017.
“Partnering with our small towns and cities to support essential services that rural residents need is one way USDA is facilitating prosperity in rural America,” Perdue said. “USDA’s investments will help communities significantly improve their schools, hospitals and public safety facilities, and improve the quality of life.”
USDA infused $1.5 billion into rural areas in 2017 through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program for projects such as schools, libraries, municipal centers, first responder vehicles and equipment, social service buildings, recreational activities and other community needs. These investments are helping nearly 7 million rural residents.
“The heartfelt gratitude that I hear from rural Idahoans, including state and local government leaders with regard to Community Facilities programs gives our staff great pride and a sense of accomplishment as we deliver these vital programs in support of true and lasting prosperity,” said Layne Bangerter, USDA Rural Development State Director for Idaho.
Below are Idaho projects that USDA helped finance in 2017:
• Benevolence and Beyond Inc., a non-profit local food pantry in Shoshone, Idaho, received a $30,000 loan to purchase the building they were leasing, and make much needed improvements to the building. The improvements consisted of providing a new roof and accessibility upgrades to the front entrance of the building. The purchase and improvements will allow the non-profit to continue providing individuals and families in the area with access to emergency food.
• The West Pend Oreille Fire District located in Bonner County Idaho, near the city of Priest River, received a $500,000 loan to construct a new 2,880 square foot fire station north of Priest River and construct a 1,440 square foot addition to their existing station three, located south of Priest River. The new station and the addition will include space for training facilities, living quarters, and apparatus storage. The fire district’s population has increased and the new station and the addition to the existing station will enable them to adequately serve the district’s 3,350 patrons located over 71,000 acres.
• Ambulance Services Inc., in Nezperce, Idaho received a $100,000 loan to use towards the construction of a new emergency medical services facility in the city of Nezperce. Ambulance Services Inc., joined forces with the city of Nezperce, and the Nezperce Rural Fire Protection District to construct a combined fire station and emergency medical services facility. When construction is completed in early 2018 the three entities will have a facility that will house all their vehicles and equipment. The result will benefit the city and surrounding area with better coordination and response times to emergencies and allow the volunteer first responders better training.
• The Wheatland Fire Protection District located east of Lewiston, Idaho received a $600,000 loan to construct a new fire station. The District had been using a farmer’s barn to store their equipment. The new station will have four bays for apparatus storage, a training room, public meeting room, some office space and a small kitchen. The new facility will allow the district to improve their response times and better serve the 116 households in a growing area in rural Idaho.
• The Falcon Ridge Public Charter School, located in Kuna, Idaho, received a $1.25 million loan to expand portions of their building to provide dedicated spaces for music, lunch, and staff collaboration. Their students currently eat lunch in the school’s wooden gymnasium. The funds will allow for the construction of a dedicated lunch room with a larger food preparation area in one addition. The other addition will house additional classroom space as well as a staff lounge and collaboration area. These improvements will be benefit the 275 students in grades K – 8 that attend the school.
• Syringa Mountain School in Hailey, Idaho, received a $1.975 million loan to purchase and make improvements to their existing leased school building. The improvements included remodeling of the upstairs portion of the building, external egress staircase and installation of an accessible elevator. The improvements made the upstairs portion of the building useable, and allowed the school to increase their student population capacity from 165 to 225 students. The remodeled building will adequately serve the Syringa Mountain School students for the foreseeable future.
• The Franklin County Medical Center in Preston, Idaho, received loans totaling $9.85 million to add 14,354 square feet to their existing facility along with renovation of 1,475 square feet. Upon completion, the medical center will have a new emergency department, surgical and imaging suites, and a new laboratory. These improvements and additions will allow better emergency access to over 13,000 county residents, allowing them to stay closer to home when surgery is required.
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, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. 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. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic.
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.