BENTON, Tenn., Oct 11, 2012 -- Often now days parents make ends meet by picking up additional shifts at work or taking jobs with non-traditional hours, leaving their children without supervision after school or in the evenings. In Benton, local leaders recognize the value to the community and economy of helping families fill this need. Providing a safe, inspiring environment where children can thrive while their parents work provides a solid foundation for the future.
Through a land donation by the county and federal funding through USDA Rural Development (RD), today local leaders broke ground on the new Ocoee Youth Center (OYC) facility. OYC is a non-profit organization that provides educational and recreational opportunities to more than 100 children from around Polk County each month.
The RD grant of $100,300 will be combined with a low-interest loan of $300,000 to construct the new building. Currently the Center leases about 8,000 square-feet in a church building that was not originally designed to accommodate the kinds of services OYC now provides for working families.
According to OYC staff, the current facility has reached its practical capacity, while demand for services continues to grow. When construction of the new building is complete staff expects attendance to triple.
The new facility will include office space for the volunteers and workers of the Center, computer lab, education and game rooms, teen room, needed storage space, kitchen/dining area, and a parent lounge. To ensure the safety and security of the children who use the services the new building will also be fitted with a state-of-the-art security system.
"Providing opportunities for the children to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing atmosphere is vital to the growth of our local communities," said RD Area Director David Collett. "Making investments like these gives the parents of these children piece of mind knowing their children are safe while they are working."
Others who participated in the event include Sen. Lamar Alexander's Representative Evan Freeman, Sen. Bob Corker's Representative Jane Jolley, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann's Representative Daphney Kirskey, Polk County Mayor Hoyt Firestone, Benton Mayor Jerry Stevens, State Senator Mike Bell, and RD Chattanooga Area Office Specialist Clay Copeland.
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.
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 four years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $3.3 Billion into local economies 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.