GMA Agency Spotlight: USDA Rural Development

December 14, 2020

By Joyce White, USDA Rural Development State Director

When I think about USDA Rural Development, I am reminded of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In this movie, the character George Bailey gives up his dreams of traveling the world to stay in his hometown to run the Bailey Building and Loan begun by his father. This decision was driven by his desire to follow in his father’s footsteps in caring for his community. It is a great story of a bank helping small town America much like USDA Rural Development is committed to doing the same.

USDA Rural Development is the sixth largest bank in the nation, investing approximately $1 billion annually into Georgia. We fund water, waste and sewer systems, electric and transportation infrastructure, broadband, large and small businesses, healthcare and educational facilities and community facilities. We also help 4,000 rural citizens realize the dream of a home each year.

We believe that when a family can send their children off to college and the children have jobs to come back home to, the family is strengthened, and the rural community thrives. When rural America thrives, all of America thrives.

USDA Rural Development Programs:

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program (DLT): The DLT program uses telecommunications to connect rural to urban and can link teachers to students and medical services to patients. The need to connect has never been so critical. We recently awarded four DLT grants amounting to $2.8 million that will be infused into connecting Georgians.

Reconnect Program: ReConnect furnishes loans and grants for the costs of construction, improvement or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas. USDA has invested $22 million in four ReConnect projects for rural Georgia to date.

Community Facilities Program: Funds can be used to purchase, construct and/ or improve facilities or purchase equipment and pay related project expenses in rural areas. Examples include health care facilities such as hospitals, medical and dental clinics, nursing homes, courthouses, childcare centers, fire departments, police stations and equipment, food pantries and more.

Water and Waste Programs: You can’t develop an area without adequate infrastructure. WEP provides funding for the construction of water and waste facilities in rural communities and is proud to be the only federal program exclusively focused on rural water and waste infrastructure needs of rural communities with populations of 10,000 or less.

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