Mark Reisinger, state director of USDA's Rural Development agency in Iowa, says Rural Development's investment of guaranteed loans, direct loans and grants to assist with housing, business development and critical community and technology infrastructure in rural Iowa totaled $371,335,546 in 2007.
"This investment helped create or retain nearly 2,300 jobs, aided 1,240 families in buying their own homes, and assisted more than 100 rural Iowa communities in improving community facilities and upgrading local infrastructure," Reisinger says. "As the leading producer of ethanol and biodiesel, and a top-three state in wind production, Iowa finds itself poised to take full advantage of the economic and agricultural opportunities ahead. Undoubtedly, a rural renaissance is happening all around our state."
Interest in guaranteed loans increases
During the past year, USDA Rural Development worked with more than 180 rural lenders to guarantee loans totaling $100 million for business development projects, community facilities and housing opportunities in Iowa.
"Guaranteed lending is one of the most valuable services offered by USDA Rural Development," he says. "How it works is rather simple, and there are many benefits to all participants including borrowers, lenders and local communities."
With guaranteed lending, a loan is made to a borrower following the same basic steps as a conventional loan. Rural Development then agrees to provide payment, based on a predetermined percent, of any loss the lender may have if the borrower falls short on their commitment.
Agency cultivates Iowa's rural economy
Improving economic opportunities in rural America continues to be a leading emphasis at USDA Rural Development. Through partnerships with producers, rural businesses and communities, the agency had a record year promoting the growth of rural Iowa, he notes.
In 2007, the agency partnered with a record 168 stakeholders in 123 rural communities to invest $43.9 million in guaranteed loans and grants. This investment helped to create or retain a projected 2,300 rural Iowa jobs.
During the past year, Iowa funded more renewable energy and energy-efficiency improvement projects than any other state and was among the leading states in the number of producers assisted with value-added agriculture opportunities.
More than $7.8 million was awarded to rural electric cooperatives and economic development organizations to set up revolving loan funds that will help create jobs and stimulate Iowa's rural economy.
Improved housing conditions for rural Iowa
While rural economic development can take on so many different meanings, at its foundation is a community's ability to provide residents with safe and affordable housing.
In 2007, USDA Rural Development invested $127 million to help a record number of rural Iowa families improve their housing environments. More than $98 million was provided to assist 1,240 families with loans to buy their own home. The agency also helped more than 500 families make needed repairs to their homes, making them safe and structurally sound.
Rural Development's investment in multi-family housing projects in Iowa totaled $23 million, the highest level since 1980. Rural Development currently provides financing for more than 550 apartment complexes in Iowa, giving rural residents access to more than 10,500 apartments. In addition, more than $12.8 million in rental assistance was provided by Rural Development to ensure rural families, seniors, and people with disabilities are able to afford to live in these facilities.
Helped communities build critical facilities
Helping more than 100 Iowa communities develop critical infrastructure during the last year, Rural Development assisted more than 100 communities across Iowa with $199 million in guaranteed loans, direct loans, and grants to help with improvements to community facilities and upgrades to local infrastructure.
More than 70 projects received $13 million through the agency's Community Facilities Program. Seven childcare facilities received more than $300,000 in assistance through the Child Care Initiative program, and nearly $3 million was awarded to five healthcare-related projects all across the state.
Rural Development in Iowa was a national leader by funding 10 community-based projects with guaranteed loans totaling $4.3 million. The agency provided $23.8 million to help provide necessary water and wastewater services to rural areas. Finally, this past year Rural Development awarded 35 grants totaling $941,275 to help finance emergency-related equipment including warning sirens, fire and rescue equipment, and emergency generators.
Contact Rural Development for information
"We are constantly looking to expand our investments in rural communities across Iowa and hope that 2008 is another record year," says Reisinger. "All of our programs are voluntary, so we are always on the lookout for individuals and groups with a stake in rural America who would like us to assist. We want to work with them and help support their efforts to improve their community."
For more information about programs offered by USDA Rural Development, call 515-284-4663, visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia, or stop by one of the 11 USDA Rural Development offices in Iowa that serve 1.9 million Iowans living in rural areas. Office locations include the state office in Des Moines, along with area offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver programs in a way that supports increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents, says Reisinger. As a venture capital entity, the agency provides equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.