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$1 Billion Invested in Rural Health Care Across 13 States

In late 2011, the President announced a White House Rural Council initiative lead by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to invest in rural health and link rural doctors and hospitals to financing for health IT. The initiative was designed to address the need for financing to support the adoption of health IT systems in rural communities.  Financing has been cited as one of the top challenges for rural doctors and hospitals serving remote and poor communities.

Between 2012 and 2014, the HHS and USDA led initiative generated approximately $1 Billion in rural health care financing across 13 states. These investments, funded by USDA, included grants and loans to help rural clinics and hospitals transition from paper to electronic health records (EHRs), encourage exchange of health information with health care providers and patients, and offer telehealth services.

Community Cooperative Market Provides Alaskans with Fresh, Local Food

Alaska’s first member-owned community grocery store is open for business. The Fairbanks Community Cooperative Market was partially funded by the USDA Rural Economic Development Loans and Grants (REDLG) program.

Making this project possible was the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA), a USDA borrower since 1949.  GVEA is the grantee that was awarded a REDLG to fund a revolving loan which was used to help establish the Market. USDA Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund traveled to Fairbanks last month to join with community, volunteers and founders in the grand opening of the new Market.   The store has already provided more than 20 new local jobs for residents.

USDA Rural Utilities Administrator Meets Partners in North Dakota to Promote the Promise of Rural America

Turning on a light, running water from a faucet, or calling a friend are activities that most of us take for granted. Rural utility providers are the lifeblood in their communities offering services important in our everyday lives and in supporting rural industries. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides support to expand and modernize these services.

Recently, Acting USDA Rural Utilities Administrator John Padalino visited North Dakota to host a meeting, which focused on creating partnerships that benefit the future of rural America. Key players in this conversation were the water, electric, and telecom providers. Padalino noted that without basic infrastructure, we would have no support for our rural economies, which are critical to the success of our nation.  All of us depend on rural America for our food, water, and energy.

East River Electric Cooperative Highlights USDA Rural Development funded Business

It was lights, camera and action as a videographer for the National Rural Economic Developers Association (NREDA) and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) traveled across eastern South Dakota.  Hosted by the Rural Electric Economic Development, Inc. (REED) Fund, video interviews documented the businesses and partners that make REED’s revolving loan fund such a success.

A stop on the tour included Dakota Style, a home grown business located by Clark, SD.  Dakota Style started making their own potato chips 25 years ago and has expanded into sunflower seeds and salad toppers.  When progress led to a large national contract, they needed space for packaging equipment and storage for shipment.

Construction Begins on a Rural Kansas Fire Station with Financing from USDA and an Electric Cooperative

The City of Quinter, Kansas, had a groundbreaking ceremony for a new fire station earlier this month.  All of the city’s fire equipment will soon be under one roof, which will help improve the fire station’s efficiencies when crews respond to emergencies in its 400 square mile service area.  The new station is being built with funding support from USDA and a local electric cooperative.

According to City of Quinter Administrator, Ericka Gillespie, the city of less than 1,000 needed a new fire station because the old facility was not meeting the needs of the community.  A larger space was needed for training, storage, and additional fire protection equipment and trucks.  The larger fire station will also improve the department's fire rating, resulting in lower insurance costs.

USDA, Co-ops Play Role in Helping Rural Residents Cut Electricity Costs

Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden announced a “Recovery Through Retrofit” initiative aimed at boosting energy efficiency in homes across the country. As part of the effort, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has developed Home Energy Score software that will standardize home energy audits, providing homeowners with a score, a list of possible upgrades, and a breakdown of the costs and benefits of recommended upgrades.