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Posts tagged: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Back Home in the Midwest

Cross posted from the White House Blog by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack


Recently, I had the privilege of accompanying President Obama on his White House to Main Street Tour to visit towns in Missouri, Illinois and my home state of Iowa. Coming home to small towns in the Midwest reminds me of what terrific places they are to live – but also of the challenges that so many middle class Americans in these communities face on a daily basis.

The truth is that there is a silent crisis going on in rural America.  Rural communities have higher poverty rates than the rest of the country, fewer people have college degrees, and many towns are watching as their young adults move away because they don’t see an opportunity to make a good living.

At the local businesses, farms and schools the President and I visited this week, folks were asking the same question:  how can we bring economic vitality back to Main Streets across the nation?  And many of our stops on the tour demonstrated possible answers to that question.

In Fort Madison, Iowa we visited a plant that manufactures blades for wind turbines that added nearly 400 new jobs with help from a grant from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The Obama administration is hard at work supporting plants like this – and other renewable energy opportunities – to build a green economy that will also help combat climate change.

In my home town of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa the President and I visited a small farm and business supplying locally grown food to schools and businesses in the community.  At USDA, our Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative is working to create more small businesses like this one that link local production to local consumers.

newly-released report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers’ outlines more of the Administration’s policies that will bring greater economic prosperity to rural America. The Recovery Act laid the framework for this new rural economy, making important investments in broadband access, energy, education and infrastructure – but there is still more work to be done to create jobs and ensure prosperity in rural communities.

Coming home to the Midwest was a reminder of how a healthy American economy depends on a prosperous rural America – and some of the steps we need to take to build it. But it also showed me once again that President Obama is deeply committed to nurturing strong, robust, and vibrant rural communities so that Main Street’s across rural America remain the best places in this nation to live, work, and raise a family.

President Barack Obama tours a farm with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, and farmer Lowell Schachtsiek in Palmyra, Missouri, April 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama tours a farm with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, and farmer Lowell Schachtsiek in Palmyra, Missouri, April 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

USDA Rural Development-Kansas Celebrates Earth Day With The City of Chetopa

By Harold Alford, Public Information Coordinator, Kansas

Last week as we celebrated the anniversary of Earth Day, we remembered that it is critical that we protect our environment for future generations. In each of the past 40 years, communities and individuals throughout our Nation have taken one day out of the year, Earth Day, to celebrate and initiate actions that preserve our planet.

This year, to mark Earth Day in Kansas, USDA Rural Development celebrated with the City of Chetopa, USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul (School District), local business, and the community.

Kim Juenemann, Superintendant for USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul remarked, “Chetopa Elementary has annually participated in one or more Earth Day activities.  We were very pleased to be part of the USDA’s efforts in creating a dual celebration between our school and the city of Chetopa.  Chetopa Elementary students will also be participating on May 14th to continue our celebration of Earth Day at which time they will be completing activities at our OWLS (Outdoor Wetland Learning Site) location.”

Local grocery, Chetopa Foods, has provided grocery bags for the K-8 grade kids to decorate with Earth Day or environmental theme drawings. At the event held in the Chetopa K-12 School Building, the children returned the grocery bags back to Chetopa Foods for distribution to the community, to share the art work and messages commemorating Earth Day.

As part of the celebration, USDA Rural Development presented the City of Chetopa with a Certificate of Recognition for its efforts to protect the environment, with the planned wastewater infrastructure improvements.  Funding for the City’s project, a $3,000,000 loan provided through the Agency’s Water & Environmental Program, was selected to be funded by federal appropriations, provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. (Stimulus Funds).  Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreements, and the letter of conditions.

City Clerk Toni Crumrine said, “Using USDA Rural Development funds to make improvements and repairs to our sanitary sewer system will allow us to provide a safe and healthy environment for the residents of our community.  As with all small communities, Chetopa needed to find the most economical way to obtain funds to make these improvements that will benefit our city at a cost that our citizens can afford.”

“USDA Rural Development’s Water & Environmental Program is one of the most important community and economic development efforts this Agency administers.  These USDA funds, combined with the Agency’s technical assistance which supports local leadership, helps make these critically needed services a reality.  Water is the most basic need to help support community and economic development in rural Kansas.  These valuable USDA programs promote economic growth and enhance the quality of life for the area residents served by these projects and all of Kansas,” commented State Director Patty Clark.

hildren from USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul decorate grocery shopping bags for distribution by the local grocery as part of the USDA Rural Development Earth Day Event in Chetopa, Kansas.
Children from USD #505 Chetopa – St. Paul decorate grocery shopping bags for distribution by the local grocery as
part of the USDA Rural Development Earth Day Event in Chetopa, Kansas.

Rescue Vehicle Purchased With Recovery Act Funds Through USDA Rural Development Helps Rescue an Oklahoma Logger

A few weeks ago, USDA Rural Development helped the Antlers, Oklahoma EMS purchase a brand new six-wheeled ATV with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This was an important investment considering that the EMS team did not own one already. This new machine was purchased to help EMS workers reach patients in harder-to-reach places and the forests and mountains. 

  Only a day after the ATV was purchased, it was called out to duty and helped rescue a man from a logging accident. It was used to transport him from the accident site to an ambulance. The patient suffered from a broken leg. Luckily, the team had the ATV because it would have been difficult to get an ambulance to this logging site. 

 Hopefully, this new ATV can be used to save lives all around the area, but as excited as the EMS team is to own this new equipment, let us pray that they do not have to use it frequently. 


Submitted by Student Reporter Derek Lehman, (Antlers, Oklahoma 4-H club) 

Antlers EMS personnel use an ATV funded through the Recovery Act to rescue a logger.  

Antlers EMS personnel use an ATV funded through the Recovery Act to rescue a logger. 


 Student Reporter Derek Lehman

Student Reporter Derek Lehman 






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USDA Business Programs Administrator Promotes Job Opportunities at Nebraska Conference

USDA Rural Business-Cooperatives programs  Administrator Judith Canales was the luncheon speaker earlier this week to a crowd of nearly 100 at the Rural Jobs, Rural Opportunities conference hosted by Nebraska Rural Development in Kearney. The conference was a follow up to the Rural Jobs Forum held early in January.

At the January Jobs Forum, the critical elements identified for Nebraska were the rural economy, cutting edge technology, youth retention, community investment, business education and training, the creation of better paying jobs, and financial resources offered by local, state and federal agencies.   To move the discussion forward on these issues, panel experts at the March 29 conference discussed broadband, local foods, eco tourism, guaranteed loans/access to credit, business opportunities/business transition, renewable energy, revolving loan funds and local funding for community economic development.

Administrator Canales also led a roundtable discussion with economic developers and lenders at the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, where the details and benefits of the Business and Industry programs and funding available to businesses through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were discussed.  Nebraska lenders provided suggestions to Ms. Canales on improvements that might be made to the Business and Industry programs to increase its use in rural Nebraska.

Co-conveners for the conference included the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, Nebraska Cattlemen, U.S. Forest Service, Nebraska Community Foundation, Heartland Center for Leadership Development, Nebraska Rural Initiative, and the Nebraska Resource Conservation and Development. 

 Ms. Canales and Nebraska RD State Director Maxine Moul also provided interviews to two TV stations, the daily newspaper and two radio stations.

By Nebraska Rural Development Public Information Officer Vicki A. Schurman