Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing $501 million in 60 projects to help improve health care infrastructure and services in rural communities nationwide. Tennessee Rural Development State Director Jim Tracy announced that two of these projects are in East Tennessee.
“The benefits of upgrading emergency equipment and facility purchases cannot be overstated,” Tracy said. “USDA is proud to help improve the quality of life and ensure the continued safety of our citizens.”
Hazlett made today’s announcement as part of USDA’s commemoration of National Rural Health Day, which is held annually on the third Thursday of November to focus on the specific health care issues facing rural communities. The Department is investing in 60 projects through the Community Facilities direct loan program. These investments will expand access to health care for approximately 2 million people in 34 states. In Tennessee the projects are as follows:
The Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad will use $66,000 to purchase a 2001 Freightliner Pierce FL 70 fire & rescue vehicle. Its current vehicle, a 2006 Ford F550, continues to have mechanical issues and is too expensive to operate. The Greeneville Emergency and Rescue Squad serves Greeneville's 15,062 residents.
- The Emergency Communication District of Roane County will use $2,703,500 to construct a new office building, and a dispatch office for the rural 911 center. The project will be constructed on the old runway at the Rockwood Airport. The area being served is the community of Rockwood, which has a population of 5,562.
In addition to those in Tennessee, USDA is investing in health care projects in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Hazlett’s funding announcement complements the finalization of a partnership between USDA and the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) to identify issues causing financial strain on rural hospitals, which are an important part of the rural health care system. NRHA and the Department will work together to identify management and financial indicators that impact rural hospital operations. This technical assistance will help rural hospitals continue to operate and provide critical health care services to serve rural communities.
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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.