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Category: Rural Development

Reflecting on the American Dream

Rural Development Virginia State Director Basil Gooden (left) and RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez (right) with Alias and Ansam Khader

Rural Development Virginia State Director Basil Gooden (left) and RHS Administrator Tony Hernandez (right) present Alias and Ansam Khader (and their adorable daughter) the symbolic key to their new home.

Last month, I had the privilege of witnessing the American dream come to life for a Rockingham, Virginia family who has just purchased and built their first home with the help of a USDA Rural Development (RD) direct low-interest loan. It was an honor to help Rural Housing Service Administrator Tony Hernandez, Virginia Rural Development employees and local officials welcome Alias and Ansam Khader and their three children to their newly constructed home, which we did via a key presentation ceremony on the family’s new front porch.

Prior to the ceremony, I had the opportunity to spend time with the Khaders as they graciously took me and others on a tour of the house. They shared with us stories of their journey to this special day and visions of their bright future. I quickly learned that the Khaders were a remarkable family, having overcome extraordinary circumstances. Read more »

Building Communities Together Nationwide

Building Communities Together Nationwide infographic

Building Communities Together Nationwide infographic (Click to view a larger version)

Owning a home opens up a world of opportunities. A home is an asset that helps families finance education or a business. A home could be the reason you learn how to use a power drill, or the reason you start your first garden. Homeownership helps people become more financially literate all while connecting with their community in ways they may have never connected before.

Now that another Homeownership Month has come and gone, I would like to reflect on the strides the Obama Administration has made toward truly accessible rural homeownership for all. Since 2009 USDA Rural Development has made investments in affordable homeownership opportunities in 3,200 U.S. counties. These investments have benefitted more than 1 million people across the country. Read more »

USDA is a Boon to Business in Boonville, NY; Higher Exports Thanks, in part, to Rural Development Program

Administrator Sam Rikkers touring the lumber yard

Administrator Sam Rikkers tours the lumber yard with CJ Logging Equipment and 3B Timber President, Mark Bourgeois.

Focusing on international markets, renewable energy and a community’s inherent assets, rural businesses find dynamic paths to prosperity.  To see this in action, I headed to Boonville, New York.

Mark Bourgeois was born and raised in Boonville and today is President of CJ Logging Equipment and 3B Timber.  A stable employer in the region, 3B Timer processes softwood trees on-site into utility poles. 3B Timber utilized Rural Development’s Business & Industry (B&I) loan guarantee to expand their operations.  As Mark explained, his company now exports 80% of its poles to Canada, expanding international trade and supporting job creation in the region and state. Read more »

REAP: Working Well in North Carolina

Joel Olson (left), President of O2 Energies, Inc. of North Carolina speaking with USDA staff

Joel Olson (left), President of O2 Energies, Inc. of North Carolina speaks with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff in front of one of O2's solar projects. O2 worked with local North Carolina lender Surrey Bank & Trust and USDA Rural Development to finance the project.

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP as we call it, is one of the flagship programs found in the energy title of the Farm Bill. Through REAP, USDA helps rural agricultural producers and small businesses improve their financial bottom line through increased energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy sources.

We wanted to share two great examples of this investment and development in North Carolina. In Mt. Airy, NC, local lenders took advantage of REAP’s loan guarantees to finance O2 Energies and build a solar farm that can provide up to 20% of the power needed by the community. Read more »

Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating Homeownership Month

USDA Works with Families to Realize Their Dreams of Homeownership infographic

USDA Works with Families to Realize Their Dreams of Homeownership infographic. Click to enlarge

Five years ago, Christy Carr seemed like a long shot as a future homeowner.  She was a newly divorced, unemployed mom of five, and her credit score was in the 300’s. The home she shared with her children had no heat, no electricity and no running water. A neighbor let Christy run an extension cord to his garage outlet just so that the family could keep the lights on. Since they had no car and only a cooler to keep their food cold, they walked to the store three times a day.

In order to rebuild her life, Christy had to find work and clean up her credit score.  After many interviews, Christy was offered a good job at a marketing company. She was able to move into an apartment but it was too small to house all of her children, and her older sons had to stay with another family member. At the same time, Christy brought her student loans out of default and paid off old marital debts. After 18 months, her credit score had risen by 300 points, and she was able to open a credit card secured through her bank. Read more »

Housing is Opportunity, Housing is Jobs

 

House Builders Create Homes, Housing Creates Jobs

House Builders Create Homes, Housing Creates Jobs. Click to enlarge.

When one thinks about home, they often think about warm meals on the dinner table, cozying up on the couch, painting the nursery, or even building equity in a place one calls their own. When I think housing- especially new housing: I also think opportunity; I think jobs.

Jobs come from laying foundations, installing windows, and making sure faucets pour water and lights shine bright. Most importantly, jobs go home at the end of the shift, and gather at that dinner table knowing local economies are improving. We have had 75 straight months of private-sector job growth in America, and the housing sector has played its part. Read more »