Washington, DC, Oct 06, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding awards that will support rural communities, help create jobs and build regional economies in 34 states. Vilsack made the announcement during the Rural Wealth Creation and Livelihoods Conference, sponsored by the USDA Economic Research Service and the Ford Foundation.
The Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition in Lincoln, Nebraska will utilize a Rural Business Opportunity Grant of $100,000 to educate the public within areas of identified rural communities, located within a 6 state region of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Georgia, Maryland and Florida. Outreach and marketing tools will be provided to E85 retailers, Flex Fuel Vehicle manufacturers and dealers, local stakeholders, State governments and policymakers. By accentuating the economic, environmental and security benefits of purchasing Flex Fuel Vehicles the expected outcome is to motivate consumers to use higher than 10 percent blends of ethanol/renewable fuels. The final objective is to boost demand for fueling stations to install at least 10,000 new flex fuel pumps within 5 years and boost rural development and net farm income by up to 36 percent by the year 2022. This Flex Fuel Vehicle awareness project will establish a minimum of one job. Statistics show that the U.S. fuel ethanol industry has already created nearly 500,000 jobs nationwide. The intended outcome of the Flex Fuel awareness program is to generate results of nearly doubling the current production capacity of the existing ethanol industry, which would create more jobs in primarily rural areas and increase revenues for agricultural producers.
Three River Telco in Lynch, Nebraska has been selected to receive a $740,000 Rural Economic Development Loan that will relend to Brown County Hospital at zero percent interest for the new multi-slice computerized tomography (CT) scanner and building addition to house the new scanner. As a result, medical care will be improved for the many rural residents of Brown, Blaine, Cherry, Keya Paha and Rock counties that are served by the hospital. This project will result in two part time jobs.
"These funds will help local business leaders, communities, and disadvantaged agricultural producers take more of a collaborative and regional approach toward jobs creation, business development and economic growth," said Vilsack.
Projects funded as part of USDA's regional initiative will focus on strategic planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas, particularly in underserved communities. The initiative will help communities to connect and cluster their economies geographically based on their self-identified strengths, so they are able to increase productivity and build more robust, sustainable economies.
The Secretary announced investments through the Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) program which supports regional planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas; the Small and Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant program, and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which support job creation efforts, business development and strengthens economic growth in rural communities.
Under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, USDA provides grants to local utilities which use the funding to establish revolving loan funds. Loans are made for projects that will create or retain jobs in rural areas. For a complete list of applicants selected for funding, which is contingent upon recipients meeting the terms of their agreements, please click here.
The announcement is part of a series of rural infrastructure investments expected by Secretary Vilsack during the next two weeks. This effort supports the goal of the American Jobs Act, which makes critical infrastructure improvements to put people back to work immediately.
The Obama Administration is making historic investments to build rural America's economy by ensuring access to innovative technologies, promoting production of renewable energy, and investing in community infrastructure and job creation.
On September 8, President Obama presented the American Jobs Act in an address to Congress. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. The American Jobs Act is specific. It will put people back to work right now, and it will not add to the deficit. Through a combination of direct spending, such as infrastructure investments, and tax relief, such as an extension of the payroll tax cuts, it will lead to new American jobs.
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.