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Still Made in Rural America: Steel in California Gold Country

Small town Oroville, California sits on the banks of the Feather River at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was established to supply the thousands of prospectors headed to Bidwell Bar, one of the first gold rush mines in the state. Today, this community of 16,260 people produces much more than just gold dust.

At the edge of town, what started in 1989 as a backyard blacksmith shop by owners Michael Phulps and Sean Pierce has become a 82-employee steel manufacturing company called Metal Works, thanks to a little help from USDA Rural Development. Fourteen years ago, Metal Works received their first Business & Industry loan guarantee to purchase a 20,000 square foot fabrication shop and office building on a little over 18 acres. Since then, they’ve converted their original 9,400 square foot building to a retail steel shop, and added another 20,000 square foot fabrication shop, burn table, and a modern, high-precision drill and beam line. Now, they’ve leveraged a new Rural Development guaranteed loan to refinance, save tens of thousands of dollars annually, and hire 10 new employees as a direct result of those savings.

Deputy Secretary Announces USDA Support for Graduate Housing on Maryland's Eastern Shore

When you think back to your college days, what stands out?  For many, college is the first opportunity for a student to move away from a childhood home and take another step toward full adulthood.  Finding housing away from home can be expensive, especially for students enrolled in graduate programs.

Recently, USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden visited The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a vibrant campus with over 700 graduate students.  Until now, those students did not have an option to stay in a graduate dorm.  They are being housed in Salisbury, Maryland and commuting.  This is time-consuming and expensive.

Challenge Builds Positive Relationship between Louisiana Black Farming Community and FSA

When Mike Sullivan met a 30-year-old beginning farmer, he never thought it would launch a relationship that would influence an entire African-American farming community in the Cane River region of Louisiana.

“Sometimes good things can come out of a not-so-good situation,” said Sullivan, farm loan manager in the Natchitoches Farm Service Agency (FSA).

That’s what happened the day Thomas Roque, Jr., walked into the Natchitoches FSA County Office. Roque was hoping to get a loan to purchase calves to raise and sell for profit on his family’s 800-acre farm, purchased by his great-great grandparents in 1916. But things didn’t work out as easily as he hoped.

Minnesota City Uses USDA Recovery Act Funds to Upgrade Water and Wastewater Systems

Travelers on Interstate 94 in central Minnesota are greeted by a smiling face whenever they pass through the city of Freeport. For years, the city has been known for the smiley face painted on its water tower. Unfortunately, due to the tower’s age, it no longer meets the needs of the community of 450 people.

Using loan and grant funds from USDA Rural Development, Freeport will build a new water tower, replace water mains, make water main looping improvements and replace old sewer lines. The loan portion of the Rural Development funds come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Obama in February of 2009.

Historic Kansas Hotel Converted to Residential Use with USDA Rural Development Support

About 85 years ago, the leaders and generous residents of Pittsburg, Kansas rallied to build the Besse Hotel in the city’s quickly developing downtown district.  The structure was a 13-story grand dame that catered to business travelers and visitors for decades with a grand ballroom, upscale restaurant as well as beautiful guest rooms.

However, after more than 50 years, the structure fell into disrepair and became a blight on Pittsburg’s downtown.

New Online Resource Links Retired Landowners to Beginning Farmers, Ranchers

A new online resource is available to farmers with expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts and beginning farmers interested in obtaining land.

TIP Net is a website sponsored by the USDA Farm Service Agency designed to assist those who are interested in the Transition Incentives Program (TIP). The site serves as a matchmaker to link farmers with expiring CRP contracts to beginning farmers and ranchers who are interested in bringing the land into production.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Celebrates Recovery Summer at New Senior Living Community in Boulder City, Nevada

The residents of the recently opened Lakeview Terrace Senior Living Community in Boulder City, Nevada, were delighted late last month, to share their opinions of their new home with special guests Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. Senator Harry Reid, and Congresswoman Dina Titus, who were together at the facility to cut the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony.  More than sixty attended.

Five Years After Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, USDA Continues to Assist Gulf Residents

Cross-posted from the White House Blog

Devastation caused five years ago to the Gulf region by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita remains historic in proportion. It resulted in loss of life, families being displaced, homes and businesses destroyed, and communities left in ruins.  In the midst of this great tragedy, USDA Rural Development lent their knowledge and time to assist in the immediate hours following the passing of the storms.  It was a new, but critical role of supporting other Federal agencies in swiftly establishing 80 disaster recovery centers; assisting local residents and leaders as they faced unparalleled adversity.

USDA Rural Development Provides Grant Funds for a Maine Grange Hall Renovation to Process and Distribute Local Farm Products

By Virginia Manuel, USDA Maine Rural Development State Director

USDA Rural Development provided a Rural Business Enterprise Grant to assist the Maine Alternative Agriculture Association (MA3) to renovate the former Grange Hall in Starks into a modern facility for processing and distributing local farm products.

An open house was held on July 28th to celebrate the completion of the project, which now includes a new kitchen and cold storage facility.  The association will contract with local farmers to provide farm products that will be collected, processed and distributed from the new facility.  The farm products will be ‘beyond organic’ by emphasizing sound soil management as well as being pesticide free.