Gil Gonzalez acting Under Secretary for Rural Development, in a recent national conference, outlined Rural Development's message, "Committed to the future of rural communities."
The message is a refocus on the agency's mission and President Bush initiatives of increasing economic opportunities and improving the quality of life for rural communities.
"USDA Rural Development is the sole government agency that can build rural communities from the ground up," said Gonzalez. "We are committed to aggressively working to help families, communities and businesses build the basic community infrastructure, help create more local jobs and gain access to educational and health care services and technologist that allow them to be better prepared to compete in a global environment."
"While we have accomplished much, we know that more must be done to assist more families, businesses and communities to benefit from the financing and technical assistance USDA Rural Development provides," said Greg Branum, Missouri state director for USA Rural Development. "The conference provided the tools and networking opportunities to help accomplish the agency's goals and President Bush's initiatives for rural Missouri."
A specific agency goal for 2005 is to make sure that individuals, families, businesses, and communities are aware of the programs to: eliminate substandard housing so that rural people can buy, build or rent decent housing; to create or preserve jobs by funding the growth and creation of rural businesses and cooperatives; to help build and improve community facilities, such as schools, health clinics, fire/ambulance stations and first alert warning systems; and to build or extend utilities, including water, electricity and telecommunications services. This program assistance is provided through direct or guaranteed loans, grants and technical assistance. To accomplish these goals extensive partnerships are essential with the private and public sector including guaranteed lenders as well as state and local governments, other agencies, nonprofits, community and faith based groups.
Rural Development is the primary credit arm of USDA. Under the Bush Administration, over $1 billion of the taxpayers dollars were returned to Missouri.
Information regarding any of the USDA Rural Development programs is available by contacting the West Plains Rural Development Office at 3210 Hoover Drive or by calling 417-256-7117 ext. 4. Rural Development's Web site is: www.rurdev.usda.gov/mo.