Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support to Create Jobs,
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support to Create Jobs, Improve Health and Safety for Rural Americans in 31 States and Puerto Rico
GardenNews.biz - Aug 20,2011 - Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Support to Create Jobs, Improve Health and Safety for Rural Americans in 31 States and Puerto Rico
WASHINGTON, — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced support for projects to create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural communities in 31 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement as part of the Obama Administration's week-long focus on the rural economy and the White House Rural Council, which is addressing key areas of need in rural America including helping rural small businesses access capital, expanding rural job search and training services, and increasing rural access to health care workers and technology.
"The funding we are announcing today will help rural communities remain attractive places for job creation and business expansion," Vilsack said. "The Obama administration and USDA are committed to ensuring that rural communities remain economically competitive by offering residents access to quality health care services, modern library facilities and school buildings, and reliable emergency equipment and services.
Financing totaling nearly $55 million in loans and grants will support 107 projects through USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program. Eligible projects include essential community facilities for public use in rural areas such as fire protection, safety, health care, education and other community needs.
For example, in Rotan, Texas, the Fisher County Hospital District was selected to receive a $42,000 loan and a $35,000 grant to renovate patient rooms and offices at the hospital. The hospital serves more than 4,300 people. The funds will also be used to install a new electronic medical records system to better manage patient care through secure use and sharing of health information, known as health information technology. A Memorandum of Understanding was recently executed between USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve collaboration and to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in rural communities.
In Shepherd, Mich., Greendale Township was selected to receive a $438,000 loan to buy a school building and convert it into a town hall and a public safety building. When complete, the renovated structure will increase meeting capacity for civic functions and also house an emergency response vehicle.
A complete list of community facilities projects that were selected for funding is below. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.
Today's announcement is an example of investments the Obama Administration is making to help create jobs and grow the rural economy. In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
On Tuesday, President Obama hosted the White House Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa. The Forum brought together farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials to discuss ideas and initiatives