USDA’s Rural Development agency invested a total of $643.8 million in rural Iowa in 2015 through various USDA-funded programs. The programs include providing housing opportunities for thousands of rural Iowans and supporting a wide variety of job-creation and community-improvement projects and activities. USDA Rural Development in Iowa released its annual report last week.
"Our focus is on the viability of rural communities and areas which are so important to our state and nation," says Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa. "Our funding continues to have a dramatic impact all across Iowa. Since 2009, we’ve invested $4 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families."
Highlights and samples of projects funded through USDA Rural Development's 2015 investment in rural Iowa include:
* $246 million in guaranteed and direct mortgage loan funds assisted more than 2,300 rural Iowa families and individuals in purchasing homes.
* $22 million in rental assistance to rural residents, who are many times elderly, living in USDA-financed apartment complexes.
The following lenders were the most active users of USDA Rural Development's guaranteed home loan program in 2015: Lincoln Savings Bank, 129 loans, $14,125,357; Residential Mortgage Network, 101 loans, $13,326,678; Northwest Bank, 92 loans, $9,219,185; Wells Fargo Bank, 92 loans, $7,643,771; Citizens First National Bank, 82 loans, $7,067,009.
With guaranteed lending, a loan is made to a borrower by the lender following the same basic steps as a conventional loan, Menner explains. USDA Rural Development provides up to a 90% guarantee to the lender on qualifying loans, reducing the lender's risk in the event of a default by the borrower.
A total of $65 million was awarded to rural Iowa businesses through USDA Rural Development Business and Cooperative Programs, including:
* $45 million in loan guarantees to lenders who assisted 17 rural businesses with expansion and job-creation initiatives.
* $11 million in rural economic development loans and grants to rural electric co-ops to help local businesses, organizations and communities with a variety of projects.
Nearly 140 rural Iowa businesses used USDA's Rural Energy for America Program to install renewable energy systems or make energy-efficiency improvements.
Corn Belt Power Cooperative received two $300,000 Rural Economic Development Grants to assist in upgrades to E-911 communications equipment used by the Humboldt County Law Enforcement Center and the renovation and expansion of the City of Garner's public library. Central Iowa Power Cooperative received a $2,000,000 Rural Economic Development Loan that was provided to Co-Line Welding to help with expansion at the business.
Rural infrastructure upgrades
* $132 million was awarded to six rural electric cooperatives to help with general infrastructure and system enhancements, new electric distribution lines and overall service improvements to their members.
* $40 million was awarded to independent rural telephone companies to expand services such as broadband to their customers.
Eastern Iowa Light & Power Cooperative headquartered in Wilton received a $44 million electric distribution loan to assist the electric cooperative with implementing its four-year construction and system-improvement plan.
Rural community improvements
A total of $134 million in loans and grants helped rural Iowa communities make a variety of improvements to their services, infrastructure and facilities, of which:
* $113 million was used for such projects as building new hospitals and fire stations.
* $21 million helped 32 communities and areas improve their water and wastewater systems.
There were 13 grants of less than $25,000 to assist with smaller community-improvement projects.
Hawarden Regional Healthcare received an $8.8 million USDA Rural Development loan to support a large facility-improvement project that will add approximately 20,000 square feet to the hospital and renovate another 13,000 square feet. Lyon & Sioux Rural Water System, Inc. is using a total of $4,094,000 in USDA Rural Development loan and grant funds to construct a new water treatment plant at their well field outside of the City of George and to make other water system improvements for customers.
"We are proud to serve the needs of rural people and places to ensure that rural America continues to thrive and drive the economy," Menner adds. "We are very happy to be a partner with all the communities we serve as they work hard to make investments that will impact many future generations."
Contact USDA Rural Development
For more information about finance programs available through USDA Rural Development, call 515-284-4663 or visit the agency's website at rd.usda.gov/ia. USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas. Office locations include a 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.