Asheville, N.C., Sep 04, 2013 -- USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh today announced funding for projects to help build or improve essential community facilities in several rural North Carolina towns.
“These projects illustrate the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to help rural residents gain access to up-to-date infrastructure and community services necessary to improve their quality of life,” Kunesh said.
Kunesh announced that Rural Development is providing a $6.2 million loan to help construct a senior adult center in Reidsville; a $990,000 loan to build a town hall and new library for the Town of Midland; and a $400,000 loan to help Open Arms Community Outreach Food Pantry buy a building it will use to operate a community food pantry.
While in Asheville, Kunesh joined representatives from Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO) and toured recently completed homes in the Compass Park subdivision in Weaverville. MHO is a private, community development corporation whose mission is to build and improve homes, communities and lives for residents of Asheville and Buncombe counties. Since 1988, MHO has helped more than 2,400 families become homeowners.
Also during her tour, Kunesh visited Mountain BizCapital, which focuses on local rural entrepreneurship by making loans to minority, women and immigrant entrepreneurs. Mountain BizCapital primarily helps businesses that produce, market and distribute local foods. It partners with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Program to help farmers and agricultural vendors get the resources they need to succeed.
Rounding out her tour, Kunesh visited the MANNA Food Bank in Asheville. In 2011, USDA gave MANNA a $22,900 grant to buy a refrigerated delivery truck that was instrumental in helping MANNA distribute 11.2 million pounds of food in 2012. Three of the 16 counties MANNA serves are included in a USDA initiative to target high-poverty areas.
This initiative, StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, is designed to increase technical assistance and financial resources provided in high-poverty areas. Through StrikeForce, USDA Rural Development employees are partnering with local community leaders to ensure that communities struggling with poverty are fully engaged with USDA and are taking advantage of all possible resources and funding opportunities.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested more than $6.3 billion in rural housing, energy, rural businesses, utilities and community programs across rural North Carolina. In 2010, for example, USDA Rural Development awarded Haywood County a $12.5 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Community Facilities loan to purchase the former Walmart building in Clyde and renovate it for use as a centralized government services center.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).