Huron, SD, Nov 21, 2013 -- USDA Rural Development, one of the seven mission areas of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA Rural Development), today announced it invested over $399.3 million in rural South Dakota in Fiscal Year 2013. Working with private mortgage lenders, USDA has helped 1,527 families move into their own homes; the business program has assisted 61 small businesses with grants and loans in support of entrepreneurship; and the community program has funded 39 critically needed infrastructure projects for water systems, waste water treatment, emergency response equipment, and essential community facilities.
USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks announced the year-end total during an interview with South Dakota Public TV. The topic of discussion was on highlighting Native infrastructure.
Meeks commended the realtors, community partners, Tribes, city and county staff in rural South Dakota for their assistance in getting projects completed.
“I am impressed with our South Dakota partners and our staff. They work hard towards finding ways to provide funds that support communities and businesses to grow the economy,” said Meeks.
For the third year in a row, USDA Rural Development’s Housing Program broke its record in terms of investments in homeownership. USDA Rural Development brought 1,593 families into homeownership with over $202.4 million in home loans and guarantees of private sector mortgages for low and moderate income people living in rural parts of the state. The smaller direct loan program provides low interest loans to low-income people, and the guaranteed home loan program works with private mortgage lenders to provide 100% financing for modest income individuals and families seeking to live in rural areas.
Fifty families benefited from the agency’s home repair program which provided $196,038 in loan and $71,389 in grants to complete home repairs to improve safety and accessibility. In addition, rental assistance for low-income families totaled $13.2 million in South Dakota. Rental assistance is offered to qualified low-income seniors and families living in Rural Development financed apartment complexes throughout the state.
In Fiscal Year 2013, the Business Program invested $158.4 million statewide, including $24.8 million for seven Guaranteed Business and Industry (B & I) projects statewide, most notably, a $1.6 million loan guarantee for South Dakota Pulse Processors, LLC in Hughes County. The projects principal activity is the sourcing, processing and trading of dried edible pulses. They intend to purchase lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans from farmers in South Dakota and process them into a value-added product for their customers. The B & I program provides private lenders a guarantee on eligible loans in communities of 50,000 population or less, which provides lenders an opportunity to assist business and expand their loan portfolios in rural South Dakota.
Rural Development’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) in South Dakota received a $750,000 boost with a loan to West River Foundation for Economic and Community Development. Headquartered in Sturgis, West River Foundation was formed in 1999 to stimulate growth and create employment opportunities in Western South Dakota. In 2008 and 2009, 2010, and 2011 West River Foundation was also awarded IRP loans in the amount of $750,000. They have loaned over $21,373,567 million in USDA funds to eligible rural businesses through its loan programs.
USDA Rural Development invested $1.1 million in Renewable Energy Loans and Grants in South Dakota in Fiscal Year 2013, including $1.06 million in 32 Rural Energy for America projects (REAP), $33,750 for feasibility studies, and another $21,000 in advanced biofuels payments. REAP helps agricultural producers and small rural businesses increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon in the environment through grants that support energy efficiency improvement for heating and air conditioning systems, or through development of alternative energy systems, such as solar, wind, or micro-hydro systems. The biofuels program provides payments to support the development and growth of the advanced biofuels industry.
The Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) continues to build a foundation for business growth, with $179,455 invested in three South Dakota projects in Fiscal Year 2013, plus an additional $298,943 from the national office allocation for three tribal projects. The RBEG program funds feasibility studies, revolving loan funds, and technical assistance to support business enterprise and job growth.
This year, USDA Rural Development’s Community Programs invested just over $24.6 million in critically needed community services. The Community Facility (CF) direct loans provided $6.2 million and Community Facility grants leveraged $574,347 for critically needed projects. Eureka Community Benevolent Hospital Association utilized a Community Facility loan of $55,500 and a grant of $18,000 for the installation of an e-Emergency Room. The equipment housed in the room will enable the hospital as needed to contact a facility in Sioux Falls where specialists are on call 24-hours/7-days a week. This will enhance patient care at the facility. The hospital is a Critical Access Hospital and serves the surrounding area of Eureka.
USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program invested over $17.7 million in loans and grants for rural community water and waste water treatment systems that are fundamental to protecting community health and to providing an infrastructure base for future community development. These projects provide for major infrastructure improvements at affordable rates, and create significant numbers of construction jobs, while preparing rural communities for long-term, positive growth.
“Another aspect of what we do is to link rural communities and Tribes to other beneficial programs and partners,” said Meeks. “We provide support for them in finding a path to move forward towards a more sustainable future.”
USDA Rural Development staff continues to work side by side with four groups in South Dakota to implement the Stronger Economies Together (SET). South Dakota is a StrikeForce state. StrikeForce is a USDA initiative to increase program participation from rural communities and leverage collaboration with community based organizations in targeted, persistent poverty areas. One of the most notable accomplishments was the creation of a statewide coalition, the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, that promotes Native homeownership in South Dakota. Staff is also active in collaborative work on local and regional food systems, food security, rural tourism, broadband, and developing biomass as a means of restoring the landscape while creating new products and forms of renewable energy.
USDA Rural Development has offices in Aberdeen, Huron, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Yankton. For more information, visit the USDA Rural Development website at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/sd.