FARGO – Nearly $1 billion from USDA Rural Development has been dolled out to benefit North Dakota communities and residents in the past year, according to a new report released today from the state office.
State Director Jasper Schneider said the loans and grants from USDA Rural Development “highlight a substantial investment made into the future of North Dakota.”
“By partnering with individuals, businesses and communities, we have been able to build critical infrastructure and spur economic activity,” Schneider said.
The $969.6 million in aid was distributed through 43 different programs including direct loans, guaranteed loans and grants, Schneider said. Funding for USDA Rural Development programs was secured through the 2008 Farm Bill.
Last year’s aid includes about $200 million in stimulus money approved through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Schneider said.
Some of the larger projects funded by USDA Rural Development last year include hospitals, emergency service facilities, basic infrastructure projects and the expansion of utilities and broadband to rural communities.
Here’s a highlight of some of the projects helped by the federal dollars:
- By far the most project to receive USDA dollars last year was a partnership between Rural Development and rural electric cooperatives to improve service to outlying areas in North Dakota. In the last year alone, North Dakota Rural Electric Cooperatives received more than $648 million in loans from Rural Development to expand and upgrade its utility infrastructure. “These investments ensure that residents have a constant supply of affordable electricity,” Schneider said in the report. “Not only do these investments enhance critical infrastructure, but they also increase economic development opportunities in our rural communities.
- Rural Development also shelled out millions to help residents and communities in western North Dakota, where the Oil Boom has left many people and resources strapped. More than $13.6 million in stimulus funding through Rural Development was distributed for projects improving health care facilities and access to water, broadband and emergency services.
- The new Jamestown Regional Medical Center, which opened July 31, serves more than 40,000 people in five counties with state-of-the-art technology and services that the former Jamestown Hospital simply couldn’t match. The medical center is also the largest hospital ever financed by USDA in North Dakota and among the largest nationwide, Schneider said in his report. The project received about $31 million in stimulus aid, plus $21.5 million in direct funding through Rural Development. Schneider said the funding saved or created about 734 jobs for the Jamestown area.
- West Fargo’s new southside firestation was made possible through a $1.5 million loan through Rural Development. The new facility allows one of North Dakota’s fastest growing cities to respond faster to emergencies on all ends of the city. The facility houses some fire and police department offices and several fire engines that West Fargo’s volunteer department can use at a moment’s notice.
For a full list of which projects received aid through USDA Rural Development last year, check out the full report online.