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USDA aims to help rural communities

IRON RIVER—The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program is committed to the future of rural communities like those in Iron County. State Director Jason Allen visited Iron County last month to promote the host of programs that Rural Development offers.
    “We have a very good set of tools that can help rural development throughout this region,” Allen said. “Rural Development is an underutilized asset to help build and grow communities.”
    For example, Rural Development assisted the city of Iron River in purchasing a new street sweeper, which the city began using this spring. Rural Development and Detroit-based Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone worked to prepare bond documents that brought to close a $200,000 bond at 4.25 percent.
    Allen said other recent projects that Rural Development helped finance in the U.P. include a new jail facility in Delta County, a loan and grant in excess of $3 million to improve the sewer system in Schoolcraft County and to provide disaster funding in the Keweenaw Peninsula after storm damage in the summer of 2018.
    Programs offered by Rural Development include the following:
    -Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant, which provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas.
    -Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee, which is a loan and loan guarantee program that offers financial assistance to eligible applicants that will construct, improve or acquire facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed.
    -Rural Business Development Grants, which is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private business in rural areas.
    -Rural Energy for America Program, which provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.
    -Rural Energy Savings Program, which provides loans to entities that agree to make affordable loans to help consumers implement cost-effective, energy-efficient measures.
    -Rural Home Loans, which is a program that assists low- and very-low income applicants to obtain decent, safe and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability.

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