FARIBAULT, Minn., Sep 15, 2011 -- On Thursday, Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager joined local, federal and state officials to get feedback from residents and business leaders on how the Administration can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs. The meeting is part of a series of roundtables that are being held across the country this summer with senior Obama Administration officials on behalf of the White House Rural Council.
"Continuing to invest in economic development in our rural communities is vital for sustaining and creating jobs in Minnesota," Tonsager said. "The Obama Administration is working to ensure that rural Americans have access to basic services and businesses have the tools they need to compete, expand and create jobs."
The roundtables give government leaders an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. They also are intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that help rural businesses, residents and communities.
John Van Dine of SAGE Electrochromics in Faribault hosted this event with the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. SAGE recently used a Rural Economic Development Loan through the USDA to help finance the construction of a new 250,000 square-foot facility will allow the company to increase its production of clean energy windows.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested over $130 million to help rural Minnesotans start or expand businesses, grow the use of renewable sources of energy and add value to agricultural products. These investments have created over saved almost 3,500 jobs.
Earlier this year, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The council is designed to build on the Administration's robust economic strategy for rural America and make sure that continued federal investments in rural communities create maximum benefit for rural Americans. These unparalleled rural investments are helping drive job creation and laying the foundation for rural communities that are repopulating.
"USDA Rural Development will continue to build partnerships and increase economic opportunities and make sure that local businesses are aware and taking advantage of the resources and programs this agency offers to help them compete,” said Colleen Landkamer, Minnesota USDA Rural Development State Director.
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.