KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Apr 26, 2012 -- USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode announced federal funding for six projects spread across East Tennessee over the last three days. The projects included five libraries in conjunction with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and one project focusing on child advocacy.
The projects, which will service Monroe, Johnson, Carter, Cocke and Roane counties, will invest more than $200,000 in the local economies through funding agencies.
In Monroe County, a $66,000 low-interest loan and a $34,600 grant will be used to purchase a 1,653 square-foot building to house CASA Monroe, Inc., a court appointed advocate for abused or neglected children. The new facility will improve the organizations ability help children and provide them a safe place to work with advocates.
Across the rest of the region, five libraries received funding in partnership with TN ECD to improve the publicly available electronic networks that allow residents access to the worldwide web for job searches, education and training.
"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 Johnson County Public Library received $10,572 RD grant that was combined with $8,650 from the state to install 11 computers, a projector and router as well as one assistive laptop with a mobile cabinet.
In Elizabethton, the Elizabethton Carter County Library received a $6,728 RD grant and a $12,494 grant from the state to install 11 computers, a projector and router as well as one assistive laptop with a mobile cabinet.
Cocke County’s library, the Stokely Memorial and Parrotsville Library, received an RD grant of $14,974 that was combined with a state grant of $12,252 to install a complete computer lab furnished with equipment, furniture and wiring.
The Kingston Public Library received an RD grant of $2,883 and a state grant of $16,339 that will be used to install a computer lab, furniture and wiring.
The Rockwood Public Library received an RD grant of $2,883 that was combined with a state grant of $16,338 that will be used to install a computer lab, furniture and wiring.
The expanded computer and Internet access at the libraries 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.”
Rural Development community programs finance construction or improvements to essential services like reliable access to clean water, wastewater treatment, healthcare, education, job training, first responders and emergency 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.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last three years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $2.5 Billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in East Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Knoxville at 865-523-3338, ext. 4, toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext. 1491or the Rural Development Area Office in Greeneville at 423-638-4771 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1490, or visit us online at ㋰§Ⓦ〣" 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.