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USDA Announces Investments in Rural North Carolina Communities to Improve Quality of Life and Create Job Opportunities
SMITHFIELD, N.C., Feb. 3, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced investments in five North Carolina rural communities to create jobs, improve the learning environment for children and promote public safety. Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O'Brien made the announcement on the Secretary's behalf during a trip to Smithfield, N.C.
"These projects are essential to maintaining strong rural economies and vibrant communities," O'Brien said. "These funds will improve public safety and foster a quality learning environment. These are examples of how USDA helps support businesses and small towns as the Obama Administration works with the community to create and retain jobs."
Funding for the projects is being provided through the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities program.
Smithfield has been selected for a $2.8 million Community Facilities direct loan to improve traffic flow and safety at a highway interchange that is vital to the region's commerce. The town will use USDA funding to improve the interchange of the Highway 70 business alternate and Interstate 95. The high volume of traffic during peak hours creates hazardous driving conditions for southbound travelers. In addition to the USDA loan, about $5.4 million is being provided by private sources, along with a $950,400 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a $750,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
In Selma, N.C., Neuse Charter School has been selected to receive a $2.79 million guaranteed loan through the Self-Help Credit Union to buy a 26-acre site to accommodate the school's modular classrooms and provide space for expansion. Neuse, the only charter school in Johnston County, has almost 400 students in kindergarten through 9th grade and 150 students on the waiting list. The USDA loan guarantee will help the school expand to include students through grade 12. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recognized Neuse as a North Carolina School of Distinction in 2009 and as an Honor School of Excellence in 2010. It has been open for three years.
USDA also selected other recipients in North Carolina for Community Facilities funding:
- Winterville Community Rural Fire Association, Inc: To construct an 8,315-square-foot volunteer fire department: $877,000 loan;
- Town of Ahoskie: To replace fire department equipment: $300,000 loan; $75,000 grant;
- City of Dunn: To repave streets, replace sidewalks, relocate overhead utilities underground, and replace traffic signals with poles: $2,989,000 loan.
The funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions in the funding agreement.
The Community Facilities program helps finance essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. These include health and child care centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted-living facilities, fire and rescue stations, police stations, libraries, community centers, public buildings and transportation. Through this program, USDA ensures that such facilities are available to all rural residents. These funds are available to public bodies, non-profit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes. More information about USDA Rural Development can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of employees located in Washington, D.C., and in state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $146 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).