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USDA Rural Development Awards Over $418 Million Throughout Minnesota in Recovery Act's 1st Year

Thu, Feb 25th, 2010
Posted in Agriculture

St. Paul, Minn. - Since being signed into law by President Obama in February 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has made a major impact throughout rural Minnesota. Over $418 million in loans and grants have been awarded to improve rural home ownership, upgrade infrastructure and create jobs in rural communities.

"We're seeing many positive things happening in Minnesota's rural communities thanks to the Recovery Act," said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director. "It's important to understand the impact these dollars are making in our rural communities. These funding numbers represent new jobs, improved infrastructure, and increased home ownership in Minnesota's rural communities."

Nearly $308 million in ARRA funds have been used to help 2,611 low and moderate income individuals and families obtain home ownership through Rural Development's direct and guaranteed home loan programs.

Eight rural businesses have received over $29 million in guaranteed loans to help with expansion, debt refinancing and startups. Several additional businesses have been assisted with planning and expansion through nearly $600,000 in Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG). RBEGs are awarded to an intermediary organization, which then awards zero-interest loans to local small businesses.

Sixteen communities have been awarded over $53 million to replace failing water and sewer treatment systems. For example, Granite Falls was awarded over $14 million to replace its 90-year-old water treatment system. The old treatment system experienced flooding problems, leaving Granite Falls without safe drinking water for extended periods. The new system will be located away from the flood plain and will provide the city with safe drinking water well into the future.

A total of six communities have been awarded almost $24 million to build or renovate community facilities such as fire halls, assisted living centers and nursing homes. For example, Pioneer Homes in Fergus Falls was awarded over $21 million to build a new assisted living facility. The new 105-bed facility is currently under construction and will improve access to quality health and long-term care services in the region.

ARRA Funds Available Until Sept. 30

ARRA funds will continue to be available through Rural Development until Sept. 30, 2010, or until all funds have been awarded. Examples of projects eligible for funding include community water and sewer systems; community facilities such as fire halls, libraries, day cares and hospitals; business financing for startups, expansions, working capital and job creation; and home loans for qualified low and moderate income rural residents.

"The application process for ARRA funds is essentially the same as requesting regular program funds," Landkamer said. "Now is definitely the time to contact your local Rural Development office and complete an application."

USDA Rural Development has 13 area offices located throughout Minnesota and a state office in St. Paul. A complete listing of offices, as well as more information on all Rural Development programs, can also be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn.

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