Temple, Texas, Aug 18, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced support for projects to create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural communities in 31 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement as part of the Obama Administration’s week-long focus on the rural economy and the White House Rural Council, which is addressing key areas of need in rural America including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.
"The funding we are announcing today will help rural communities remain attractive places for job creation and business expansion,” Vilsack said. “The Obama administration and USDA are committed to ensuring that rural communities remain economically competitive by offering residents access to quality health care services, modern library facilities and school buildings, and reliable emergency equipment and services.”
“The Community Facilities Program is a vital funding source available to rural communities to help them keep pace with the needs of their rising populations,” said Texas USDA Rural Development State Director Paco Valentin. “We are pleased to announce today that eight rural communities in Texas will directly benefit from this funding announcement.”
Financing totaling nearly $55 million in loans and grants will support 107 projects through 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 other community needs.
For example, in Rotan, Texas, the Fisher County Hospital District was selected to receive a $42,000 loan and a $35,000 grant to renovate patient rooms and offices at the hospital. The hospital serves more than 4,300 people. The funds will also be used to install a new electronic medical records system to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information, known as health information technology. A Memorandum of Understanding was recently executed between USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve collaboration and to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in rural communities.
A complete list of community facilities projects that were selected in Texas for funding is below. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.
• City of Anson – To purchase an electronic medical records system; $5,840 loan and $17,490 grant
• City of La Joya – To renovate a municipal building; $3,482,000 loan and $35,000 grant
• City of Raymondville – To construct a police station; $1,465,000 loan and $35,000 grant
• Fisher County Hospital District – To purchase an electronic medical records system; $42,000 loan and $35,000 grant
• Maverick County – To purchase patrol vehicles; $246,000 loan and $50,000 grant
• Bremond Historical Society –To install a heating and cooling unit, update the electrical system, and complete floors; $12,200 grant
• City of La Feria – To expand the fire station and construct a sub-station; $1,015,000 loan and $35,000 grant
• Coleman County Hospital District – To purchase an electronic medical records system; $25,000 grant
• Willacy County – To renovate the administration building; $1,060,000 loan and $35,000 grant
Today’s announcement is an example of investments the Obama Administration is making to help create jobs and grow the rural economy. In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America’s rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.
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. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.