USDA Ohio Rural Development employees help construction workers "walk up a wall" during a day of volunteering at a Marysville, Ohio Habitat for Humanity build. The house, which will belong to Union County resident Michelle Amrine, is the first-ever built-from-the-ground-up collaboration between Habitat for Humanity and Rural Development in Ohio. (USDA Photo by Heather Hartley)
In commemoration of USDA’s annual Homeownership Month, some industrious Ohio Rural Development team members and I recently spent a sunny day at a Habitat for Humanity building site, helping Marysville resident Michelle Amrine and her two children frame out a place to call their own.
Financed through USDA Rural Development’s Direct Home Loan program, the home is being constructed through Habitat for Humanity of Union County. Although earlier projects in the state included funds for the rehabilitation of already-existing construction, the Amrine house marks the first “from-the-ground-up” collaboration between Ohio Rural Development and Habitat for Humanity. Read more »
West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition
West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border. With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.
Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »
Pennsylvania Law School student Levi Morris, shown with his mother, Becky, can now continue his education from home thanks to the broadband service provided to his town through the USDA Community Connect program. USDA photos by Heather Hartley.
It’s long been said, “You can’t go home again.” It looks like someone forgot to tell Levi Morris!
Morris, 24, is a law school student at the University of Pennsylvania in big-city Philadelphia. But he was raised in the tiny Southeast Ohio village of Stafford; nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural Monroe County. He says he loves Philadelphia and may even choose an urban lifestyle once he graduates, but right now, his heart is in Ohio. Read more »
USDA Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judith Canales and Ohio Rural Development Director Tony Logan recently paid a visit to Troy, Ohio’s 3 Sigma Corporation to see how the company is utilizing its $2.25 million USDA Business & Industry loan guarantee. Among other things, the funds are helping finance the purchase, transportation and installation of a 78-inch wide aqueous (water-based emulsion) coater, financed through First Financial Bank of Dayton.
In business since 1980, 3 Sigma specializes in custom pressure-sensitive products and specialty coatings. But this technology goes well beyond diaper fasteners and sticky tape! Have you ever noticed those clever little holographic tags inside ball caps and on other wearable items? That’s a 3 Sigma-engineered counterfeit-detection system. The peel-off coupon that doesn’t shred your Sunday morning paper? 3 Sigma. That authentic backstage pass to your favorite rock star’s show? Chances are 3 Sigma may have had a hand in its creation. Read more »
Last month, USDA Rural Development in Ohio hosted another event in the “Flexible Fuels Roadshow” aimed at broadening awareness of Secretary Vilsack’s objective of deploying 10,000 flexible fuel pumps into the nation’s motor fuel delivery system by 2015. As part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), eligible applicants can now apply for funding for flex-fuel pumps, in addition to other energy producing and saving projects. For the first time, gas station and convenience store operators across the country can qualify for a package of REAP funding to support the purchase and installation of flex-fuel pumps and related infrastructure.
According to Rural Business-Cooperative Administrator Judith Canales, grants are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that offer Americans more renewable energy options. She wanted to make certain that everyone is aware of the variety of assistance USDA Rural Development provides to help businesses create jobs and become more energy efficient. This assistance builds on the Obama Administration’s commitment to win the future by ensuring the nation develops innovative ways to meet our future energy needs. Read more »
USDA employees and members of the public in Columbus, Ohio had the chance to hear Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan speak recently at the Columbus Federal Building as part of her one-day tour of the Buckeye state.
Merrigan’s first stop in the morning was at the Hoover plant in Glenwillow where she announced the USDA BioPreferred certifications bestowed on eleven new bio-based product initiatives. The products, which range from hand soaps to engine oils, are composed of agricultural ingredients and are certified to meet the standards for biobased content set by USDA. Read more »