PRINCESS ANNE, Md., Nov 14, 2013 -- USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden today announced nearly $13 million in Community Facilities loans to promote the advancement of education. Harden made the announcement on behalf of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack during a visit to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus, where she participated in a roundtable with new farmers and area agriculture leaders.
"When people think about USDA, they think about a Department that helps protect our food supply and the farmers that grow it," Harden said. "What many do not know is that USDA is much more than that. USDA Rural Development takes pride in addressing needs that are specific to local communities. Since 2009, USDA has invested in thousands of essential community projects that have benefitted millions of rural residents. In 2013 alone, USDA made about 1,400 community facilities loans and grants worth more than $1.4 billion."
Maryland Hawk Corporation, Inc. (MHC), a non-profit affiliate with the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, is the recipient of two of these loans. USDA Rural Development awarded MHC a $7.6 million Community Facilities Direct Loan and a $5.1 million Community Facilities Loan Guarantee (through the Bank of Delmarva). The funds will be used to purchase 38 acres of land located about a mile from the UMES campus, and to construct 144 units of temporary housing.
Currently, there is no existing transitional graduate housing for UMES students, even though enrollment in the pharmacy, physical therapy and physician assistant graduate programs is increasing each year.
Harden noted that USDA support to improve infrastructure at schools serving rural students is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, and that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible, she said.
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.
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