USDA Under Secretary Tonsager Meets With South Dakota Business Owners, Farmers and Residents To Discuss Economic Growth and Rural Revitalization | USDA Newsroom
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Release No. 0367.11
Contact:
Tammi Schone (605) 352-1102

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USDA Under Secretary Tonsager Meets with South Dakota Business Owners, Farmers and Residents to Discuss Economic Growth and Rural Revitalization

Howard, S.D., August 18, 2011 – USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager met with rural business owners, farmers and citizens here today to discuss ways federal, state and local officials can work together to improve economic conditions and create jobs. The meeting is part of a series of rural roundtables that are being held across the country this summer to discuss Obama Administration efforts to strengthen rural communities.

"The Obama Administration understands that strong rural communities are essential to the nation's economic prosperity," Tonsager said. "Small towns and rural areas are among the innovative leaders in renewable energy, value-added food and agricultural products, and other industries that are vital to a thriving 21st Century economy. I am here today to listen to your thoughts and ideas about how the federal government can work with you to expand these and other economic opportunities."

Tonsager's visit came just one day after Secretary Vilsack announced that nine South Dakota businesses and farmers are being awarded more than $100,000 in grants to develop renewable energy sources and/or to make energy efficiency improvements. These grants create jobs by helping businesses become more efficient, which frees capital for business expansion and innovation. Click here to view the list of South Dakota REAP award recipients: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/supportdocuments/REAPSouthDakotaGrants$20000orless_Aug-16-2011.pdf.

The roundtables give government leaders an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. They also are intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that help rural businesses, residents and communities.

USDA Rural Development offers more than 40 programs to help rural residents start or expand businesses, build or expand broadband networks, build or upgrade drinking water and wastewater systems, buy or repair homes, rent affordable apartments, and provide essential services such as schools, libraries, fire and police protection, and health care facilities.

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. 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.

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