[r51] Dodge's Column (2/1/2010)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Start Date: 2/1/2010 All Day
End Date: 2/1/2010
I recently met with the Rural Caucus where we heard from Broadband USA which was appropriated $7.2 billion, from the federal government last year, to expand broadband access to underserved communities across the U.S. This investment will increase jobs, spur investment in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits. These programs will make loans and grants available for broadband infrastructure projects and public computer centers in rural areas.

The Rural Caucus also discussed the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development's business, community and housing programs.

The business programs are dedicated to creating jobs and stimulate rural economies by providing financial backing for rural businesses. Loans, grants, and loan guarantees are available to any legally-organized entity, including cooperatives, partnerships, profit or non-profit entities. In 2009, the USDA provided assistance to  75 business projects totaling $18,183,978 in grants.

The community programs develop essential community facilities for public use in rural areas, as well as utilities and telecommunications equipment for classrooms and health facilities. In 2009, the USDA sponsored 51 community projects totaling $162,120,268 in grants.

Finally, the housing program provides homeownership opportunities to low and moderate-income rural Americans through several loan, grant and loan guarantee programs. It also makes funding available to individuals to finance vital improvements necessary to make their homes updated t, safe, and sanitary. In 2009, the USDA housing program assisted 5,145 projects totaling $463,769,891 in grants.

Direct loans and grants can be applied for directly through the USDA's Rural Development Office, and loan guarantees must be applied for through an intermediary such as a bank or credit union.

These are excellent programs that many people can take advantage of. If you would like more information or are interested in one of these programs, please call the USDAs Rural Development Albion Sub-Office which handles information for DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, and Whitley counties at 260-636-7682 ext. 4. The office is located at 104 East Park Drive, Albion, IN, 46701 and you can visit their Web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov

The state director, Philip G. Lehmkuhler is also happy to address your questions as well. He can be reached at 317-290-3100 or phil.lehmkuhler@in.usda.gov. Mr. Lehmkuhler is an expert on USDA grants and would be pleased to answer your questions.


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