LINCOLN – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $237 million in 119 rural community service facilities in 29 states. Nebraska has five recipients totaling more than $11 million.
“At USDA, we believe in rural America and in the promise of small towns and the people who call them home,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, we are committed to being a strong partner to local leaders in building healthy, prosperous futures for their communities.”
USDA is supporting these quality-of-life projects in Nebraska through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. For example:
- Henderson Health Care Services, Inc. received a $5 million loan to construct a 40-bed, long term care facility in Henderson. The facility will include 36 private rooms and two semi-private rooms. The facility will also feature two living and dining areas, two serving kitchenettes and one activity kitchenette along with family rooms activity areas, staff/nursing offices, a library, beauty shop and sitting areas and a conference room and a center courtyard.
- West Holt Memorial Hospital in Atkinson was awarded a $3.2 million loan that will make improvements to the 17-bed Critical Access Hospital. Improvements will include the construction of a specialty clinic that will allow patients to obtain services in a more confidential manner. The hospital can provide epidural steroid injections, which can decrease the need for opioid medications. These services will assist in the hospital’s ability to recruit pain management providers. The surgical suite and lab will be enlarged, and the waiting room and multipurpose areas renovated. These enhancements will better serve comprehensive health care to more than 10,000 people in a medically underserved area in North Central Nebraska.
- The village of Arlington is receiving a $1.8 million loan to rebuild a community building which includes: a village office providing vital community services, a police station allowing close and easy access for Arlington residents and a new library providing enhanced educational experiences via computer access and Wi-Fi availability at no charge to the 1,243 residents of the Village.
- The Community Hospital Association in McCook is the recipient of a $1 million loan for additions and renovations to the 25-bed Critical Access Hospital. Mental health and opioid services will continue to be addressed and enhanced by including better access to a telehealth exam room and equipment to allow patients with behavioral health needs to meet with providers remotely. Additional funding is a $15 million Rural Development Community Facilities Loan Guarantee and a $3 million applicant contribution.
- The Nuckolls County Agricultural Society, Inc. is the recipient of a $44,000 loan to construct a replacement building on the 4-H fairgrounds in Nelson. The new structure will have accessible restrooms. The proposed cost includes tearing down the old building and replacing the septic system. The building will be winterized to protect the plumbing. The fairgrounds are an important component of 4-H. Youth educational opportunities and the corresponding results are showcased. The Agricultural Society will also install six additional electrical hookups so youth showing their animals and exhibitors can stay at the fairgrounds near their booths. People need to stay at the fairgrounds because there is very little lodging for people traveling to the fair.
For more information in Nebraska find your local contact at https://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices/ne.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for USDA Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. There is no limit on the size of the loans. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
The 2018 Omnibus bill increased the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget for the Community Facilities Direct Loan program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.