SAVANNAH Tenn., Jul 14, 2011 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode today joined E.G. Fisher Public Library Director Beth Mercer to celebrate new resources now available at the library thanks to a unique federal-state partnership.
"The disproportionate economic hardship many rural Tennesseans have endured as a result of the recession is no secret," said Goode. "Unfortunately, these same people are less likely to have access to the training and other resources available with high speed Internet at home."
"Public libraries are a natural place to bridge this gap," Goode said. "More adult workers turn to them every day; to search and apply for jobs online, access training to expand their skills, apply for assistance and seek answers to health, legal and other issues aggravated by unemployment."
The expanded computer and Internet access at E.G. Fisher is part of the Tennessee Library Initiative, a federal-state partnership between the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, the Office of the State Librarian and USDA Rural Development. Together they are investing more than $1.2 million to increase the capacity of 70 small libraries to provide workforce training and increase educational opportunities for the communities they serve.
Goode said, "By partnering with the State, we are able to expand the educational and workforce development opportunities local libraries make available for families and individuals of all ages.
"We are pleased to be able to provide these much needed services to our patrons," said Mercer. "This project funded the purchase and installation of 11 new computers, a projector, printer, router and an assistive laptop. Now we have the tools to meet the changing needs of our community for years to come."
Rural Development community programs finance construction or improvements to essential services like reliable access to clean water, wastewater treatment, healthcare, education, job training and first responder facilities. Loan-guarantees encourage private lenders to expand the availability of affordable financing in rural communities. Direct loans and grants create sound financial opportunities for local governments to meet essential infrastructure needs.
Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander’s representative Evan Freeman, Rep. John Duncan’s representative Dr. Maxine Gernert, Athens City Manager Mitchell Moore, Reference Librarian Julie Forkner, RD Area Director David Collett and Area Specialist Clay Copeland.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million rural Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1.06 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan-guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in southeast Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Chattanooga at 423-756-2239 ext. 2, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1492 or online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
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, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 TDD (615) 783-1397.