INSIDE RURAL DEVELOPMENT

Community facilities essential
for strong rural communities

By Greg Branum,
Missouri State Director
USDA Rural Development

s related in the cover story of this issue of Rural Cooperatives, we in Missouri are certainly excited about the developing biofuels industry in our state. We believe that overall it is having a strong, positive impact on our rural economy, and will provide even more benefits as more biofuel facilities are constructed.

USDA Rural Development is pleased that we were able to help support projects such as the Mid-Missouri Energy (MidMo) ethanol plant in Malta Bend with a timely Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) of $500,000. That is just one of many awards made nationwide under this program to support producer- owned biofuels projects. USDA Rural Development’s Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Program also provided more than $17 million this year to support 375 renewable energy efforts in 36 states.

But strong rural communities not only need ways to add value to their agricultural products, they also need good schools, medical facilities and so much more. USDA Rural Development promotes these types of essential public facilities through our Community Facilities Loan and Grant (CF) Program.

One example in the mid-Missouri area of how the CF program helps rural America is the I-70 Medical Center, about one hour east of Kansas City, in Sweet Springs, about 15 miles from the new MidMo ethanol plant. This medical center was the recipient of an $8 million CF grant, and one of four medical centers or hospitals financed in Missouri with USDA Rural Development CF funds during the last two years. The others are the Excelsior Springs Medical Center (northeast of Kansas City), the General John J. Pershing Hospital in Brookfield (in north-central Missouri) and Iron County Hospital in Ironton (about 100 miles southwest of St. Louis). Nationwide, during fiscal 2005, $729 million in CF Direct Loans, $194 million in CF Guaranteed Loans, and $55 million in CF grants was provided to construct more than 1,200 essential community facilities in rural America.

The I-70 Medical Center is a 28,333-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that provides acute-care and emergency-care services to area residents. The 15 licensed acute-care beds provide health-care services to adult and senior in-patients.

The hospital also provides a variety of out-patient services, including surgery and diagnostic services. It also provides out-patient therapies, including physical, cardiac rehabilitation and emergency care. While not a trauma center, the I-70 Center provides muchneeded medical services to both the area’s senior population and the young.

The Community Facilities program has benefited more than 75 Missouri communities in the past year alone, with installation of more than 60 first-responder and early-warning systems. The CF program has also helped 10 Missouri cities acquire police, ambulance and fire or rescue vehicles. It has also helped fund the building of: a community center; two shelters for women suffering from domestic violence; a Head Start program building; a sheltered workshop and a 911 dispatch center.

For more information on the Community Facilities program, visit: www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs/cf/cp.htm, or call (202) 720-4323, and see how it can help your community.



September/October Table of Contents