Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $243 million in 50 rural community facility projects in 22 states. In Kentucky, over $2 million was invested in three projects across the state. Funding across the country supports infrastructure, schools, libraries, municipal centers, opioid treatment, prevention and recovery, and other community needs.
“There is enormous potential for personal achievement and economic growth in rural communities throughout our Commonwealth,” Hilda Legg, Kentucky USDA Rural Development state director said. “USDA is partnering together with local governments to improve infrastructure and provide opportunities to every resident of rural Kentucky. These investments will provide innovative education programs and increase public safety, which demonstrates the Rural Development commitment to enhancing the quality of life in rural areas of the state.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The recently passed 2018 Omnibus bill increased the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget for the program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for funding, such as schools, health care facilities, libraries and infrastructure improvements. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. There is no limit on the size of the loans. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
In Kentucky, one of these Rural Development investments will be used for the Family Wellness Center to purchase an approximately 31,000-square-foot one-story building in Hartford, Ky., from the Ohio County Board of Education. The Family Wellness Center has leased the building since its construction in 2001, and provides a variety of services to the community, such as weight loss planning, health and wellness services, and flu clinics to a rural population of approximately 2,672 in Ohio County.
Another investment will be used to purchase the Robert Stivers II Wellness Center building. The building contains approximately 39,000 square feet and sits on roughly 6.5 acres in Barbourville. The facility will provide expanded health, education and community services, including educational classes, therapy sessions, employment services, summer camps, and health and fitness camps. The facility will serve a rural population of 3,165 in Knox County, which is one of Kentucky's persistent poverty counties.
The third investment will be used to purchase a new 2018 Type III E-450 ambulance for Hancock County. The existing ambulance has high mileage and requires frequent repairs, making the ambulance unreliable. The new ambulance will allow the county's EMS personnel to have better response time to emergencies, and provide greater safety and improved services for a rural population of approximately 8,565 in Hancock County.
Projects are also being announced today in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
In April, Hazlett said USDA will prioritize investments to address the opioid crisis in rural communities. In the Community Facilities Grant Program rural communities, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized tribes can apply through the usual Community Facilities grant application process for grants up to $150,000 for innovative projects such as mobile treatment clinics. Community Facilities grants may fund up to 75 percent of an eligible project.
Last year, 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, 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.