Albuquerque, Apr 22, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced support for projects to improve the quality of life in rural communities across the country.
“USDA’s support for these projects reflects our commitment to ensuring that rural communities can create jobs, attract businesses and provide necessary services to their residents,” Vilsack said. “USDA Rural Development continues to work with rural communities to help them develop quality health care services, modern library facilities and school buildings, and reliable first responder equipment and services to ensure that people who live in rural areas have access to critical infrastructure.”
The 135 projects in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific are being financed through $234 million in loans and grants from USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program. Eligible projects include essential community facilities for public use in rural areas such as fire protection, safety, health care, education and many other community needs.
In New Mexico, the Estancia Moriarty Willard (EMW) Gas Association has been selected for a $5 million loan to expand natural gas distribution to rural residents of Torrance County in the central part of the state. EMW plans to build 29 miles of steel, high-pressured gas pipeline. The construction will provide service to rural customers who currently lack natural gas.
When he heard about the funding being obligated to the EMW Gas Association USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner said, “New Mexico residents just experienced one of the coldest winters in years. Gas service extended by EMW to small communities in Torrance County and the East Mountains will help provide this vital service to New Mexicans.” Brunner added, “We are very pleased to assist EMW with a project like this that helps keeps our rural communities going .”
Through the years, Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program has been a vital funding source for many rural communities. For example, in 2010, Rural Development awarded a Recovery Act direct loan and a Recovery Act grant to the Dillon County School Facilities Corporation in South Carolina to finance new construction or renovations for schools in three school districts. The funding is leveraged with $7.5 million from other sources. Dillon County will use the funds to construct a new pre-kindergarten through second grade facility in Latta and a new middle school near Dillon, as well as to renovate and expand an existing high school in Lake View. These new and upgraded facilities will serve more than 4,000 students.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $149 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency’s programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).