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USDA Rural Development Boosts Iowa's Rural Economy
Iowa Ag Connection - 04/01/2024

Iowa's USDA Rural Development State Director, Theresa Greenfield, announced a significant investment of $28.6 million in grants and loans for projects aimed at supporting small businesses, higher education institutions, and enhancing water infrastructure in rural areas. This initiative will have a profound impact on communities across Buena Vista, Butler, Fremont, Monona, Pottawattamie, Shelby, Sioux, Van Buren, and Wayne counties.

The funding, consisting of $4,780,000 in grants and $23,829,320 in loans, underscores USDA's commitment to fostering economic growth and prosperity in rural regions. These projects are essential for modernizing utilities, bolstering businesses, and expanding educational opportunities while prioritizing clean water and sanitation, crucial for the well-being of rural Iowa communities.

A total of 11 projects will benefit from this investment, facilitated through three distinct USDA programs:

• Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program

• Under this program, zero-interest loans are provided to local utilities organizations, which then pass on the funding to local businesses. Recipients include:

• Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative, receiving a $1,372,320 loan to support Bovy RX LLC (Parkersburg Pharmacy) in acquiring and renovating a pharmacy in Parkersburg, creating job opportunities and fostering economic development.

• North West Rural Electric Cooperative, granted a $1,000,000 loan to assist Northwestern College in constructing a residence hall on its Orange City campus, stimulating economic growth and job creation in Sioux County.

Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program

This program aims to improve clean and reliable water systems, sewage disposal, and stormwater drainage in eligible rural areas. Recipients include:

• City of Elk Horn, securing a $2,739,000 loan to enhance the wastewater treatment facility, addressing health and sanitation concerns and ensuring compliance with wastewater standards in Shelby County.

• Harlan Municipal Utilities, granted a $2,644,000 loan to improve the water system in Harlan, Shelby County, by drilling new wells, constructing well houses, and upgrading distribution piping, thereby ensuring adequate water supply and enhancing community health and safety.

• City of Linn Grove, receiving a $994,000 loan and a $1,700,000 grant to connect its water system with Iowa Lakes Regional Water's bulk-treated water supply, providing residents with clean drinking water and compliance with water-quality standards.

• Regional Water, Avoca, granted a $4,324,000 loan to expand water service to rural housing developments in Pottawattamie County, ensuring the health and safety of residents and businesses.

• Alta Municipal Utilities, allocated a $10,405,000 loan and a $2,995,000 grant to improve water quality in Alta and nearby Nokomis Township by constructing a reverse osmosis treatment facility and replacing aging distribution pipes.

• City of Randolph, securing a $351,000 loan to improve the sewer collection system, lift station, and sewer lagoon system, thereby enhancing water service and community health in Fremont County.

SEARCH - Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households Program

This program provides assistance to financially distressed rural communities for water and waste disposal projects. Recipients include:

• City of Humeston, receiving a $30,000 grant to complete a stormwater facility plan, ensuring the safety of residents and businesses in Wayne County.

• City of Farmington, granted a $30,000 grant to assess deficiencies and repairs needed in the aging sewer system, promoting community health and safety in Van Buren County.

• City of Castana, allocated a $25,000 grant to develop a water facility plan, addressing water quality issues and ensuring the well-being of residents and businesses in Monona County.

Through these investments, USDA Rural Development is playing a pivotal role in driving economic development, improving infrastructure, and safeguarding the health and prosperity of rural Iowa communities.

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