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A look back: 2012 marked by investment in rural communities

By Greg Batson, USDA Rural Development

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a report Jan. 9 highlighting USDA Rural Development’s fiscal year 2012 investments in job creation, businesses, infrastructure and housing for Americans living in rural communities across the nation.
“President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment in rural communities that have made them stronger,” Vilsack said. “Thanks to our loan, grant and technical assistance programs, USDA Rural Development is helping residents and rural enterprises thrive, and we are laying a strong foundation for rural America’s future.”
With an active portfolio of more than $176 billion in loans and loan guarantees, Rural Development has provided affordable housing, improved utility infrastructure, and helped businesses and cooperatives create jobs, build rural economies and increase the quality of life in rural areas. For a full copy of the 2012 Progress Report, go to http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/RDProgressReport-2012.pdf.
Missouri Rural Development State Director Janie Dunning stated, “The amounts listed mean a return of taxpayer dollars to the states. In Missouri, $992,406,000 was returned in the form of grants, loans and loan guarantees. This is money directly assisting businesses to create or retain jobs and communities to maintain quality of life for residents and visitors”.
For example, in 2012, nearly 64,000 rural residents received new or better access to broadband Internet service. Under the Rural Utilities Program, Rural Development provided approximately $4.7 billion in electric loans, $173 million in telecommunications loans and grants, and $1.4 billion in water and waste disposal loan and grants.
Through its Community Facilities loan and grant program, Rural Development provided more than $8.6 million to construct or improve 48 rural libraries, and provided more than $888 million in assistance for 243 projects to improve the delivery of health care for rural Americans. All told, Rural Development provided more than $1.5 billion in community facilities loans and grants to develop or improve essential facilities like these in rural areas.
In addition to the efforts to support education and health care, another key aspect of the Community Facilities program is the ability to support emergency responders. For example, Missouri Rural Development provided $417,680 to 25 entities; ambulance districts, cities, counties and villages; to improve first responders’ and emergency early warning systems’ capability. Many of these communities had no equipment or were without adequate equipment to protect lives and properties during hazardous situations.
Rural Development is also the lead agency ensuring that rural families have access to safe, well-built, affordable homes. In 2012, Rural Development helped 7,940 families with low incomes obtain safe, affordable homes, providing approximately $900.9 million in single-family direct subsidized loans.
Under the single-family guaranteed loan program, Rural Development helped more than 145,100 moderate-income families purchase single-family homes. More than 7,000 rural individuals or families were able to repair their homes under the home repair loan and grant program.
In 2012, USDA Rural Development assisted more than 270,000 low- and very-low-income families, who were able to live in safe, multi-family housing thanks to $904.7 million in rental assistance to bring their rents to an affordable level.
Rural Development also helped approximately 1,700 families move into new apartment units through $122.6 million for low-income rental housing development, $104.3 million in guaranteed loans for moderate-income rental housing development, and $5.5 million for multi-family housing for farm workers and their families.
Through Rural Development’s business and cooperative loan, grant and technical assistance programs, the agency helped about 9,700 rural small business owners or farmers improve their enterprises in 2012. Business and cooperative program funding created or saved more than 53,000 rural jobs in 2012. Rural Development provided slightly more than $1 billion in Business and Industry loan guarantees, $25.5 million in Rural Business Enterprise grants, $50.3 million in Rural Economic Development loans and grants, $17.5 million in Intermediary Relending Program loans, and $40.4 million in Value Added Producer Grants in 2012.
For example, a $1,000,000 Rural Economic Development Loan and $300,000 Rural Economic Development Grant to Missouri’s Ralls County Electric Cooperative is facilitating the construction of a Higher Education Center in Hannibal, Missouri by Moberly Area Community College. MACC is leveraging the Rural Economic Development funds with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant of $1,275,240, a MACC contribution of $1,000,000, a Hannibal community contribution of $900,918 and a Ralls County Electric Cooperative loan of $60,000.
The 16,890 square feet MACC Higher Education Center will house educational and administrative space. Included in center will be classrooms, a library, student lounge, faculty
and staff offices and building support. The center will have the latest in educational resources and technology.
For additional information on Rural Development projects, visit Rural Development’s new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for the past four fiscal years. The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.

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