Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Terry Brunner Guest Blog: 2010 Saw Record Funding for USDA Rural Development Projects
Many facets of our nation’s economy need strengthening as we make our way through the economic recovery -- one of them is infrastructure. Improvements to our public systems, services, and facilities play a vital role in increasing economic activity.
During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development New Mexico office provided $384 million in infrastructure and business investments across New Mexico through our programs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) played a large role in tripling our funding over previous years.
USDA investments made in wastewater treatment facilities, libraries, broadband and electric infrastructure (among other projects) provided immediate jobs in construction and some permanent positions. In addition to creating jobs, these investments help ensure the long-term sustainability of New Mexico communities by providing the infrastructure needed to improve our economy. Federal funding becomes increasingly more important as state and local governments contend with tight budgets.
Water and Wastewater
This fiscal year, USDA provided $54 million in funding for 28 clean drinking water systems and wastewater treatment projects in New Mexico. Some of these projects were small projects like the $56,000 grant provided to the Duranes y Gavilan water system in Rio Arriba County. Some were much larger, like the $26 million grant and loan provided to the Pueblo of Laguna. Imagine how life will change for Laguna Pueblo residents who lack water service for days or weeks and watch their water system’s pipes burst an average of four times every day.
Broadband infrastructure is crucial to the survival of our communities. USDA Rural Development provided a $9.6 million ARRA loan and grant to Penasco Valley Telecom in Artesia, NM. With these funds, broadband service will be extended to farms, ranches and small businesses in rural Southeast New Mexico that currently do not have service. Farming and ranching are more than ever high tech activities and access to the latest information on prices, transportation, weather and other important data provided through the internet is crucial to the success of the agricultural community and their efforts to remain competitive internationally.
Three and a half years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Yokom and their two young sons moved into a motor home after Mr. Yokom suffered a workplace injury which cost him his job in California. As they drove around the Southwest looking for a place to call home, they settled in Los Lunas, NM. The Yokoms qualified for and received a home loan from USDA to purchase a three bedroom home and 1/4 acre of land in Los Lunas. Since moving in, they’ve quickly become part of the fabric of that community -- the boys are involved in Cub Scouts and the family is getting to know their new neighbors. In FY ’10, USDA Rural Development helped more than 11,000 New Mexico families like the Yokoms find a place to call home and make a living.
Investments in NM Businesses
USDA Rural Development also funds investments in New Mexico businesses. For example, we provided a $12,500 grant to Milk and Honey, LLC in Santa Fe, NM. They used the funds to improve the marketing and packaging of their soaps and lotions. The owner of this local business, Daven Lee, received strong responses to her growing product line from local and regional retailers. She hopes that with an increase in orders, she will be adding staff as soon as this winter.
These are just a few examples of USDA Rural Development’s efforts in New Mexico during 2010. We not only helped foster individual businesses and helped people find a place to live, but we made critical infrastructure investments that hopefully lay the foundation for the future success and economic recovery of New Mexico’s communities.
President Barack Obama appointed Terry Brunner New Mexico State Director for USDA Rural Development on September 9, 2009.
This is a guest blog by Terry Brunner. We've previously posted a number of stories about the activities of USDA Rural Development. You can see most of them here.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Thanks Terry for doing your part helping New Mexicans.
Posted by: MMares | Oct 21, 2010 12:53:44 PM