Letter from Rep. Danou: Rural development projects create growth in West Central WisconsinLast week, I had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and other rural leaders including Congressman Ron Kind in Eau Claire.
By: Rep. Chris Danou , Pierce County Herald
Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and other rural leaders including Congressman Ron Kind in Eau Claire. One of the main topics of conversation was how President Barack Obama’s Administration has done great things for rural America over the past four years. Most importantly, thanks to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program, great things have happened right here at home.
Nationwide, the Obama Administration has been responsible for investing roughly $20 billion per year through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to rural communities. The USDA has created rural growth in the form of new jobs through energy, telecommunications, and rural business loans and grants. The USDA has also taken the necessary steps to ensure that broadband access is expanded to rural areas throughout the United States.
From 2009 to 2011, more than $2 billion was allocated to over 25,000 projects right here in the State of Wisconsin. Throughout the State, USDA Rural Development has played an integral role in helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural areas. Their mission is achieved by helping rural individuals, communities and businesses obtain the financial and technical assistance needed to address their diverse and unique needs.
In and around the 91st Assembly District, more than $30.4 million have been provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Loan and Grant Programs to 34 various projects that have helped create or save more than 435 jobs since 2009. West Central Wisconsin has also been awarded $1.9 million in Value-Added Producer Grants to eight businesses to encourage growth, expand opportunities, and create jobs.
When it comes to local housing investment, USDA Rural Development has financed nearly $250 million to over 2,000 home loans and loan guarantees through its rural housing programs. Over $528,000 has been awarded to 89 rural West Central Wisconsin households for necessary repairs, accessibility updates and to address safety issues. There has also been $7.5 million in rental assistance provided to 2,250 rural households to provide affordable housing.
USDA Rural Development has also invested in infrastructure in West Central Wisconsin. The agency has financed over $122.4 million in loans and loan guarantees through the Rural Utilities Service to improve and modernize rural electric services and to help schools and health clinics leverage state-of-the-art technology. Additionally, more than $9 million has been awarded to West Central Wisconsin in broadband infrastructure projects to expand access in rural, hard-to-reach areas. These projects have brought broadband service to over 1,500 households, businesses, and community organizations and created 99 jobs in our community.
President Barack Obama’s Administration understands the importance of investing in West Central Wisconsin. As a result, we have seen improvement in our community and our neighbors are enthusiastic about the future. With the leadership and vision of great organizations like USDA Rural Development and other similar programs, Western Wisconsin is on the right path to economic recovery and continues to be a great place to live, work, and raise a family.