In his State of the Union Address, the President announced a plan for building a strong, successful and lasting economy. He spoke in particular about the need to source jobs domestically in order to bring employment back to the United States and the need for a strong manufacturing base to build our economy upon. Here at the USDA, we are doing our part by supporting rural businesses, building modern, reliable community infrastructure, and working with farmers and ranchers to export products grown in America.
Earlier this week, I participated in a webinar about domestic sourcing and opportunities for partnership between the federal and private sectors back home to America. As the representative for all federal programs, I highlighted many partnering opportunities across agencies like the Small Business Administration and Economic Development Administration, and described in depth the opportunities Rural Development provides to rural residents and businesses. In particular, I spoke about our rural business programs, like the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program and the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program which in the last year have assisted over 50,000 small and mid-size rural businesses across the country in creating or saving roughly 266,000 jobs.
For one such project, in Romulus, Michigan, USDA Rural Development provided a Business and Industry loan guarantee that helped Aztec Manufacturing Corporation survive and thrive during the economic recession. Aztec produces a variety of auto parts for Ford Motor Co. and other clients, and thanks to $3.9 million in funding made available by USDA, the business was able to purchase new equipment, restructure its debt, and move forward with its plans to open a second manufacturing facility in Fowlerville, Michigan.
Thanks to the Recovery Act of 2009, right now broadband networks are being built out to rural and remote communities nationwide, bringing unprecedented economic opportunities. With this new and improved broadband capability, rural America offers a competitive option for domestic expansion of manufacturing facilities.
If America is going to compete in the global economy, our rural economy must be sustainable and attractive for new businesses and ongoing investment. Our objective at USDA is to turn rural areas into employment zones and centers for innovation. We all have a role to play in building a stronger rural economy and I am confident that continued partnership between federal government and the private sector will help us achieve the vision outlined by President Obama.