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DES MOINES — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development mission area invested $622 million into rural Iowa in 2016 providing housing opportunities for thousands of rural Iowans while also supporting a wide variety of job-creation and community-improvement projects and activities.

“Our focus is on the viability of rural communities and areas which are so important to our state and nation,” said Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa, in a news release.

"USDA Rural Development funding continues to have a dramatic impact all across Iowa," he said.

"Since 2009, we have invested nearly $5 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems and housing opportunities for Iowa families.”

Highlights of USDA Rural Development’s 2016 investment in rural Iowa include:

Housing opportunities —

• $214 million in guaranteed and direct mortgage loan funds assisted more than 2,000 rural Iowa families and individuals in purchasing homes.

• $18 million in rental assistance to rural residents living in USDA-financed apartment complexes.

• $1 million in loans and grants to help rural Iowans make essential home repairs.

Business assistance —

• $46 million in loan guarantees to lenders who assisted rural businesses with expansion and job-creation initiatives.

• $7 million in rural economic development loans and grants to rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to help local businesses, organizations and communities with a variety of economic-development projects.

• $2 million to help rural Iowa businesses install renewable energy systems or make energy-efficiency improvements.

Rural community and infrastructure improvements —

• $116 million to help improve community facilities and education opportunities in rural Iowa.

• $80 million to assist rural electric cooperatives with general infrastructure and system enhancements, new electric distribution lines and overall service improvements to their members.

• $69 million for projects that improved healthcare access in rural Iowa.

• $51 million helped rural communities and areas improve their water and wastewater systems.

• $15 million was awarded to independent rural telephone companies to expand services and broadband to their customers.

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“We are proud to serve the needs of rural people and places to ensure that rural America continues to thrive and to drive the economy,” Menner added. “We are very happy to be a partner with all the communities we serve as they work hard to make investments that will positively impact many future generations.”

Here is a small listing of projects/communities receiving USDA Rural Development loan and grant funding in 2016:

• Wiota — $2 million to assist with essential improvements to its municipal water system.

• Coggon — $4.2 million to construct a wastewater treatment plant and make other needed improvements throughout the wastewater system.

• Adair — $2.3 million to replace existing water mains, install a reverse osmosis treatment system and other improvements to the water system.

• Methodist Manor in Storm Lake — $25 million to assist with replacement nursing home

• Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley — $20.8 million to assist with the remodeling and expansion of the hospital.

• Van Diest Medical Center in Webster City — $1.3 million to assist with the expansion of the medical center.

• Van Buren Community School District — $1.3 million to help with renovations to the district’s secondary education building.

• Buchanan County — $8,850 to help fund a county housing needs assessment study.

• Calmar — $48,393 to help fund engineering and design work for a new business park.

• Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque — $48,037 to provide community development training and technical assistance to local leaders.

• Decorah — $11,500 to fund a feasibility study of a fiber-optic broadband infrastructure within Decorah.

• Estherville Industrial Development Corp. — $50,000 to provide technical assistance and training to small business enterprises in Emmet County.

• Batey LTD. of Mount Pleasant — $49,900 to help process woodchips into food-grade pellets.

• Great River Maple LLC of Garnavillo — $49,520 to help package and market new products such as organic maple syrup, bourbon maple syrup, maple cream and maple sugar.

• Siouxland Energy Cooperative of Sioux Center — $250,000 to help install technology to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn grown by its producer members.

• North Iowa Fresh LLC of Belmond — $20,765 to develop a feasibility study to assess various ways of connecting local producers with consumers.

For more information about finance programs available through USDA Rural Development, call 515-284-4663 or visit the agency’s website at www.rd.usda.gov/ia.

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