USDA Continues Initiative to Stimulate Growth in Rural Communities With Grants
As part of National Small Business Week, the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has announced that 26 states will benefit from $39.3 million in government grants. These grants will go towards projects that are designed to boost the small businesses in isolated, rural areas.
This funding will be primarily coming from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, and the Intermediary Relending Program. It will be going towards 68 projects that are supposed to encourage economic growth and development.
According to Vilsack, “”Supporting small businesses and rural communities is vital to our economic health. This funding enables communities to provide important support services and access to capital for rural, small businesses.”
One of the many recipients of a government grant is Webster City, a small town in Iowa. Webster City is going to get both a $300,000 grant and a $1 million loan from the Rural Economic Development program. This money will be used to build an addition to the town’s Van Diest Medical Center. This new addition will be 16,400 square feet of extra space that will include a pharmacy, a meeting room, and a medical clinic. Both the hospital and all other satellite clinics in Webster City will also be able to start using a newer, more efficient system for filing and finding medical records.
The Southern Iowa Electric Cooperative, Inc. that is located in Bloomfield is another rural community that will be receiving a loan of $1 million and a grant of $300,000 from the Rural Economic Development program. They will use the grant to update the middle and high school of the Van Buren Community School District. The renovations will include more classroom space to hold the expected increase of 90 students who will be enrolling next year, and there will also be updates to the technology used for learning.
Awards were also announced for six groups that focus on promoting economic development. These groups will receive 34.1 million from the Intermediary Relending Program that will be used to provide funds for local small business projects. The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program is providing $3.8 million that will be going towards grants for technical assistance.
Each group or community who has received an award must meet the terms of the agreement in order to keep the government grant. These terms primarily focus on expanding rural businesses, funding community services, and providing more education and health care.
This year’s government grants are a continuation of the USDA’s Rural Development Initiatives, which help to improve quality of life, stimulate the economy, and create jobs. In the past seven years alone, over 103,000 businesses in rural communities have been started or expanded by government investments totalling $11 billion. 1.1 million people in rural communities have also been able to buy homes, and almost 6 million people have finally received high-speed Internet through the many programs designed to create growth.