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Posts tagged: Victor Vasquez

Rural Development Program Provides Quality Housing for Central Oregon’s Farm Workers

While on a recent visit to Oregon, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez visited the Canyon East farm worker housing complex currently under construction in Madras. The USDA-supported facility is scheduled for completion in August, with families moving in shortly thereafter. Vasquez was joined by Oregon Rural Development State Director  Vicki Walker.

The community of Madras in Central Oregon is surrounded by numerous farming and ranching operations that provide fresh foods and products for regional markets. Many of these operations, including irrigated seed crops, potatoes and mint as well as the numerous hay and livestock operations, can be labor intensive, and rely on an infusion of farm workers. Yet, housing options in the Madras area have been limited for farm workers and their families, despite the integral and valued role they play in local agriculture as well as the overall community. Read more »

North Carolina School Construction Project Moves Forward Thanks to the Recovery Act

Congressman Bob Etheridge, Deputy Under Secretary Vasquez visit the Middlesex Elementary School Construction site in North Carolina

Congressman Bob Etheridge, Deputy Under Secretary Vasquez visit the Middlesex Elementary School Construction site in North Carolina

USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Vasquez and Congressman Bob Etheridge along with North Carolina Rural Development State Director Randall Gore visited the Middlesex Elementary School construction site in Nash County, North Carolina earlier this week.  The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Read more »

Deputy USDA Under Secretary Announces Grant Awards that Support Local and Regional Food Systems in Oregon

By Vicki Walker, USDA Rural Development Oregon State Director

Victor Vasquez, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, delivered a strong, upbeat message to grant recipients at the Community Services Consortium Youth House Gardens in Corvallis, Oregon on July 12.  The Deputy Under Secretary was in Oregon to highlight the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, and to emphasize the importance of Rural Development programs in delivering on economic recovery efforts. Read more »

Recovery Funds Deliver Advanced Broadband Services to South Texans

Written by Katie Yocum, USDA Rural Development, with assistance from Gayle Cargo, Texas Rural Development Public Information Coordinator

In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where hurricanes are known to ravage the coastline, temperatures regularly hit the triple digits and a trip to “town” can put over 200 miles on the odometer, Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (VTCI) provides telecommunications services to a rural, culturally diverse population.  Since 1999, VTCI has provided its customer base with world-class broadband connectivity, but neighboring communities outside their service area languished without access to any broadband services.  But now, funding through the Broadband Initiatives Program, authorized through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will enable VTCI to bring first-rate broadband connectivity to those under-served communities via a fiber-based and fixed wireless infrastructure.

VTCI, through its subsidiary VTX Telecom, will provide advanced broadband services to eleven underserved communities in South Texas Plains, offering access to over 19,000 homes, 778 businesses and 196 key community anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, and public safety institutions.

Almost all of the communities to be served by the new broadband technology are weighed down by high unemployment and persistent poverty.  In the rural town of Raymondville, Texas, more than one-third of the residents live below the poverty line.

Staff from he University of Texas-Pan American Cooperative Center spent more than a month traveling the South Texas neighborhoods, conducting interviews and compiling information for the company to use in applying for the funds. That research helped make the application for the financial assistance more competitive, said George Bennack, associate director of business development for UTPA’s Business Development Centers.

The announcement of the funding award was made in April at an event attended by Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez.  “Expanding broadband capabilities to these rural locales will provide opportunities for existing businesses to grow and new ones to move to the area, as well as making education available for students,” said Vasquez.

Improved access to advanced broadband services will offer rural residents, like those of Raymondville, an opportunity to pursue higher education online, search for employment, or to connect their small or home-based business to the national and global markets.  And beyond the many benefits that broadband access deliver, VTCI estimates that the construction of this project will create or save roughly 160 jobs, which will have a more immediate positive economic impact on the South Texas Plains region.  To learn more about this and other  broadband projects funded by USDA click here.

Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez (left) announces funding support to bring broadband technology to a portion of rural Texas.
Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Victor Vasquez (left) announces funding support to bring
broadband technology to a portion of rural Texas.

Texans Talk Broadband in the Lone Star State

Approximately 200 Texans from across the Lone Star State traveled to San Antonio earlier this week to discuss opportunities to extend broadband to unserved and underserved communities in the fourth of 10 public broadband workshops held nationally.  The demand for broadband is sweeping the nation and changing the way we live, work  and stay connected to loved ones.

Rural communities without access to broadband are falling into a technological gap that will affect generations if not rectified quickly.  Recent studies show that while 80 percent of Texas is classified as rural, only 38 percent of this demographic has access to the internet.  That equates to 62 percent of our state’s rural population not having access to the worldwide marketplace, educational information, and telemedicine.

“The opportunity has never been greater for rural communities to benefit from recovery act funds that will improve broadband services and enhance rural business entrepreneurship, educational distance learning and telemedicine capabilities, while diversifying farmers and ranchers marketing capabilities,” commented Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director.

Keynote speaker, USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Victor Vasquez, outlined the President’s goal to stimulate the economy and the importance of broadband to communities in rural areas – to businesses, citizens and anchor institutions.  He said everyone has a need for broadband connection which will enable them to meet the challenges of competing in a global economy and to be in the mainstream of trade and the cultural evolution.  He stressed the importance of listening to the changes and the details of the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) in order to compete favorably and that building networks were as important to building the infrastructure as they are to building good business coalitions.

Workshop attendees were given information on how to apply for the second round of broadband grants and loans under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is making $4.8 billion available to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure.   The desire is strong among community leaders to ensure rural Texans step onto the information bandwagon sooner rather than later.  Applications will be accepted until March 15, 2010 and all awards will be announced by September 30, 2010.

For information on more workshops and archived webcasts, visit  Additional forums will be held over the next two weeks at the following locations: February 4, Sioux Falls, SD; February 5, Detroit, MI; February 9, Blacksburg, VA; February 11, Fayetteville, NC; and February 12, Atlanta, GA.

Texas Broadband
USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development, Victor Vasquez, addresses the Broadband Workshop in San Antonio, Texas.

Texas Broadband
USDA Rural Development Texas State Director, Paco Valentin, welcomes participants to the Broadband Workshop in San
Antonio, Texas.

Written by Gayle Cargo, Public Information Coordinator, Rural Development-Texas