News Release
Release No.STELPRD4014319
ContactEllen Boukari(352) 338-3414
(JANUARY 26, 2012) USDA OFFICIALS MEET WITH FLORIDA BUSINESS OWNERS, FARMERS AND RESIDENTS TO DISCUSS HOUSING, JOB CREATION, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND RURAL REVITALIZATION
Haines City, Florida, Jan 26, 2012 --

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USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien joined business leaders and government officials today to learn their views about how the Obama Administration can help improve economic conditions and create jobs. The meeting is part of a series of Business Roundtables that are being held across the country on behalf of the White House Rural Council.

"USDA Rural Development has been successful in helping rural businesses, communities and residents, including those here in Florida,” O’Brien said. In Florida, over the past three years, Rural Development has provided grants and loans to assist over 130 rural small-and-mid-sized businesses in creating or saving over 2,600 jobs and has invested in 54 water and waste water community infrastructure projects to help safeguard the health of over 180,000 rural residents.

The roundtables give government leaders an opportunity to hear directly from business and community 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.

“Rural Development has assisted rural residents through investment in vital community facilities projects in Florida, including the House of Israel in Fort Meade,” said O’Brien. “Only 30 miles from where we are today, the House of Israel provides assistance to women suffering from domestic abuse, addictions, or are homeless, giving them an opportunity to learn life skills, attend education and nutritional courses or participate in substance abuse counseling. We are proud we can help improve the lives of these women, their families and their communities.”

USDA Rural Development Housing Programs provide homeownership opportunities for very-low to moderate income rural Americans through several loan, grant, and loan guarantee programs. The programs also make funding available to finance improvements to make homes, affordable, decent, safe, and sanitary. Over the past three years, Rural Development has helped nearly 20,000 rural families in hundreds of rural communities buy or refinance a home.

Last 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.

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.

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USDA Rural Development is an equal opportunity lender, provider, and employer. Complaints of discrimination should be sent to: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Washington, DC 20250-9140.