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USDA Partners to Improve Community Infrastructure for 117,000 Rural Minnesotans

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced nearly $3 million in investments to build community infrastructure and facilities for more than 117,000 rural Minnesotans.

   “Modern and efficient infrastructure is foundational to ensuring rural communities have economic opportunities well into the future,” Finstad said. “Under the leadership of Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is dedicated to finding innovative solutions for rural prosperity through partnerships for modern infrastructure.”

   USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural areas make infrastructure improvements and provide essential facilities such as schools, libraries and day care centers. For example:

  • The city of Parkers Prairie will use a $70,000 loan and $50,000 grant to purchase a new pumper-tanker fire truck to provide efficient fire emergency services for the nearly 2,400 residents in Parkers Prairie and surrounding townships.

  • The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians will use a $133,000 loan and $18,600 grant to purchase new equipment that will aid in transporting solid waste and garbage from Red Lake reservation to the landfill near Hallock. This equipment will help keep Red Lake reservation clean for the 6,000 residents.

  • The Bemidji Community Theatre will use a $260,000 loan to purchase an existing vacant facility. The building will provide areas for rehearsals, costume design, stage prop design and construction, plus classroom spaces for workshops, summer camp, and other educational activities. This project will benefit more than 106,000 residents in Bemidji and surrounding rural areas.

  • A $1 million loan will help the city of Elgin construct a new City Hall facility to house offices for the City Clerk and other municipal officials. It will also serve as a multi-purpose room, benefiting approximately 1,100 Elgin residents.

  • The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians will also use a $1,400,000 loan to continue construction of a community center. The long house that is adjacent to the community center will also be completed and accommodate up to 700 people. Additional office space, storage, a commercial-grade kitchen and multi-purpose room will be completed. The building will be used for meal service, youth and traditional Tribal activities, Ojibwe language drum and dance classes, community education and performing arts. The facility will be used by 1,600 people each month.

   Finstad’s announcement is in coordination with Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett’s recent nationwide announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $181 million in 88 projects across 27 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia..

   “Infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity in small towns across our country,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to building prosperity in rural America through modern infrastructure.”

    Other state investments include:

  • In Kansas, the city of Neodesha will use a $1.8 million loan to upgrade a city-owned natural gas system. All cast iron gas lines will be replaced, and gas meters will be relocated. The system improvement will serve about 2,500 residents.
  • In North Carolina, the Thomas Jefferson Community Education Foundation will use a $27 million loan to construct a new high school and pay off existing debt. The new school will include a gymnasium and 29 classrooms to accommodate up to 440 students.

  • In Ohio, the Monroe County Commissioners will use a $117,000 loan to purchase equipment to maintain 370 miles of rural roadways. The county will buy three trucks with snow plows, a backhoe, a tractor ditching head and a brush/tree chipper. This equipment will provide safer roads for the county’s 14,642 residents.  

   More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities 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.

   The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill increased the budget for the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.

   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/mn.