Des Moines, Iowa, Dec 21, 2011 -- December 21, 2011 – Funds from USDA Rural Development continue to have a dramatic impact on communities across Iowa. In 2011 the agency awarded $431 million in direct loans, guaranteed loans and grants to help create and/or retain 1,900 jobs, improve infrastructure and services in 80 communities and assist 2,000 families with home purchases.
“At USDA Rural Development our focus is on the viability of rural communities which are so vital to our state and nation,” said Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa. “These are the places that help support American agriculture and foster an ethic that impacts our workforce, our military and our economy. We are working with communities to create jobs, expand opportunity, encourage innovation and build a strong foundation for the future.”
In addition to generating jobs USDA Rural Development investments are creating ongoing economic opportunities in rural America that will pay benefits for years to come.
Funds from the agency’s programs help modernize essential water systems, build clinics and hospitals, support renewable energy systems, energy conservation, and ensure affordable housing for rural residents.
From new hospitals to increased, affordable housing to thriving small businesses, USDA Rural Development has been a partner in a number of great projects in rural Iowa during the past 12 months.
The Clarinda Regional Health Center, which has provided health care services in southwest Iowa for more than 70 years, is opening a replacement critical access hospital in January 2012 thanks to a nearly $19 million loan from USDA Rural Development.
The project created more than 400 construction jobs over an 18-month period and will ensure continued employment of the 170 hospital staff.
The Hotel Iowana, built in 1920 in Creston, had been vacant for many years and was an eyesore in the community’s central business district. Earlier this month, thanks in part to a $1 million loan from USDA Rural Development, the historic building has new life and re-opened its doors as a senior living apartment complex.
Throughout the construction progress there were approximately 60 workers on the site full-time, many of them from areas outside of Creston, creating a tremendous impact on the local economy, both for hotels and for restaurants.
This year USDA Rural Development provided the Winneshiek County Agricultural Extension District with a $90,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to expand the work the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness (NIFF) initiative is doing to support regional local food system development in northeast Iowa.
NIFF has had tremendous results in recent years assisting local farmers who now have additional markets for their fresh produce.
USDA Rural Development provided a $600,000 Rural Economic Development Loan to Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association. These funds are being used by North Central Iowa Rail Corridor to help operate 28 miles of railroad track in north central Iowa creating jobs in Winnebago, Hancock and Wright Counties.
Loring Hospital in Sac City received a $262,742 Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant
to assist in the purchase of video conferencing equipment that will be placed and connected at the hospital’s emergency room, outpatient and inpatient centers, public school sites in the East Sac County School District and at two area nursing homes.
Telemedical equipment such as digital stethoscopes will be connected to the video network, as well as other computers, to help establish a wide ranging video network. This will be one of the first telehealth projects in northwest Iowa.
“Our agency is eager to build on the success of the past and help foster an even brighter future for rural Iowa,” Menner added. “If you have an idea on how jobs can be created in rural Iowa, or how a rural community can improve the quality of life experience for their residents, give us a call today.”
Contact USDA Rural Development
USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural areas and communities. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
Further information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting the agency’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia or by calling (515) 284-4663.
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