Business & Economy
USDA Community Facilities Program Supports Job Growth Across America PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 13:24

Earlier today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released a report highlighting the ways in which Community Facilities infrastructure investments in rural communities help create jobs and boost economic development, and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced additional investments that will create jobs and promote economic growth across the nation.

The Community Facilities program supports job growth across the nation.  For example, recently, Under Secretary Tonsager had the opportunity to visit Greene County Medical Center (GCMC) in Jefferson, Iowa.  The 75-year-old hospital is planning a large expansion and renovation project that will create a state-of-the-art medical campus and USDA Rural Development will be involved in a big way.

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced recently that Greene County Medical Center in Iowa will receive loans to e

Our agency is providing an $18 million Community Facilities direct loan and a $2 million guaranteed loan to help upgrade and expand the facility which serves residents from several counties in west central Iowa.

This project at GCMC represents part of a continuing effort by the Obama Administration to advance technology as it relates to rural health care. Rural residents must have access to the best available care, and this medical campus will provide decades of service to the residents of this region.

During the last three years nearly $150 million in funding from USDA Rural Development has helped 24 rural Iowa hospitals with expansions, renovations and equipment upgrades.

Improved health care opportunities is extremely important in Iowa as it has one of the nation’s highest percentages of residents who are 65 years of age or older.  A high percentage of older Iowans live in rural communities.

When construction is completed GCMC will provide enhanced healthcare delivery services, as well as expanded outpatient services. GCMC is one of the area’s largest employers with more than 250 full- and part-time staff, in a community of 4,600 residents.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program has helped millions of rural Americans address essential challenges in health care, education, public service and public safety by financing projects through loans, grants, or loan guarantees.

 
Lt. Governor Simon Statement on strip club surcharge PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 13:14

SPRINGFIELD – May 31, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today issued the following statement regarding the House’s 92-23-3 concurrence to House Bill 1645, Amendment 3, which establishes a strip club surcharge and fee structure to help fund rape crisis centers that have seen state funding decline about 28 percent over the past five years. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Simon said: “I want to thank all of the advocates who answer rape crisis hotlines and counsel women, men and children who survive sexual abuse and assault. Sen. Hutchinson worked hard on your behalf to negotiate a compromise with the adult entertainment industry and garner bipartisan support for legislation that will help restore critical funding during tough budget times. My thanks also go out to Rep. Feigenholtz who ushered this bill through the House, again with bipartisan support. This is an example of how the process should work. All parties worked together for the good of our state.”

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Simon: Wind power vital to Illinois economic growth PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 12:40

Lt. Governor visits Shady Oaks wind farm as it prepares to go on line

 

COMPTON – May 30, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited the Shady Oaks wind farm today just as the turbines are scheduled to come on line and provide power to the state’s residents and businesses. She used the visit to voice support for Governor Quinn’s plan to rescue the state’s pension and Medicaid systems, which would help provide employers with the certainty they need to invest in Illinois and create jobs.

 

The 109.5 megawatt wind farm development in Lee County will sell power to Commonwealth Edison Co. beginning June 1 and provide enough energy to provide electricity for an estimated 25,000 homes. Under the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard established by lawmakers in 2007, Com Ed and Ameren Illinois must purchase at least 25 percent of Illinois energy from renewable sources by 2025. Three quarters the renewable energy is to come from wind power.

 

“Bringing this wind farm on line will bring Illinois closer to its sustainability goals, and contribute to our state’s economic recovery,” Simon said before climbing one of only three 2.5 megawatt wind turbines in the country. “If we want wind energy production and manufacturing to continue to grow in Illinois, we must give investors and employers the certainty and stability they need to build and hire here.”

 

The Shady Oaks wind farm is a result of an agreement that Governor Quinn announced during his trade trip to China last fall. Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Co., LTD (Goldwind), is one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world and began construction of the $200 million wind farm last year. The project supported 200 on-site construction jobs and 300 U.S. jobs overall, with 10 permanent operation and maintenance jobs anticipated.

 

"Were it not for the commitment to wind energy by Governor Quinn and Lt. Governor Simon, the Shady Oaks project would not have been possible," said Goldwind's CEO, Tim Rosenzweig. "Thanks to this project, 25,000 Illinois residents will benefit from clean energy while over 300 U.S. families benefitted from the economic impact of the construction of Shady Oaks. We are delighted to have been a part of it."

 

Governor Quinn and the General Assembly are working to pass legislation that will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid system and stabilize the pension system to prevent rising costs are predicted to eat into other budget expenses. Lawmakers approved a package of Medicaid cuts and a $1 a pack cigarette tax in recent days to achieve $2.7 billion in health care savings. Public pension reform negotiations are ongoing.

 

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Boost government contracts at Rock Island Arsenal PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Kara Beach   
Monday, 04 June 2012 14:21

Lt. Governor to meet new General, lend support to federal workforce act

ROCK ISLAND – May 28, 2012. In advance of a visit to the Quad Cities on Wednesday, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said Congress is on the right track in efforts to increase the workload at and ensure the long-term health of the Rock Island Arsenal.

Simon, who chairs a state committee on retention and reuse of military bases, is backing bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk of Illinois and Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa. It would require the Army to create a strategic plan for awarding government contracts that would ensure arsenals receive the workload they need to keep workers’ skills sharp between military engagements.

“The Rock Island Arsenal is a valuable national security resource and an economic engine for Illinois,” Simon said. “Our federal government has a responsibility to protect this resource. Allowing the arsenal to compete for more government contracts could help contain production costs at the national level and keep people employed at the local level during peacetime and times of conflict.”

For more than a decade, the arsenal has produced critical weapons, parts and material for use on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan, including armor for Humvees that were vulnerable to improvised explosive devices. With the military engagements winding down, lawmakers are seeking ways to maintain a vibrant workload at the arsenal through government and public contracts.

As introduced, the Army Arsenal Strategic Workload Enhancement Act of 2012 would make arsenals around the nation eligible for military contracts from all U.S. Department of Defense agencies, rather than just within the Army. This builds on federal legislation passed last year that allows for unlimited private-public partnerships at arsenals, which could translate to more domestic manufacturing work.

Simon serves as chair of the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), which was established in 2005 in response to U.S. Department of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) recommendations to close and realign military bases nationwide.

On Wednesday, Simon plans to meet with Major General Patricia McQuistion, the arsenal’s first female commanding general, and other support staff. McQuistion oversees operations on the island and leads a global organization responsible for providing front-line logistics support to combat units. During the visit, they will discuss the importance of the Strategic Workload Act and its value to the arsenal and surrounding community.

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USDA Highlights Efforts to Boost Rural Job Creation During National Small Business Week PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by USDA Communications   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:55

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2012 — A top USDA Rural Development official this week met with local leaders and business owners in the Midwest to highlight rural small business accomplishments and observe "National Small Business Week".

"We know that to build a strong foundation for our country, we must continue to invest in rural communities and small businesses that create new economic opportunities for those who call rural America home," said John Padalino, Acting Administrator of USDA Rural Development's Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS). "We've seen continued growth in rural business development and the Obama Administration will continue working to strengthen local economies throughout the country."

Padalino met this week with business leaders in Iowa and South Dakota and highlighted ways RBS business and cooperative programs help improve rural economic conditions by providing guaranteed loans and development grants for projects that help create and save jobs.

Nationally, from 2009 through 2011, RBS provided 12,214 guaranteed loans, direct loans and grants that assisted more than 50,000 businesses and helped create or save more than 266,000 jobs.

For example, Morris Manufacturing and Sales Corporation, a family-owned automotive parts manufacturer, had to lay off 100 of its 135 employees when two major automakers closed down production and reorganized. With the assistance from USDA Rural Development, Morris Manufacturing located in Brazil, Ind. secured four B&I loan guarantees totaling $10.2 million, which it used to restructure debt and purchase new equipment. As a direct result of these loans, the company rehired its laid off workers, built a new production facility, expanded its product line, and hired over 60 new employees.

The Montana Wagyu Cattle Company is a family-owned and operated business that raises cattle and provides USDA Grade-A beef and specialty beef products to restaurants, stores, and consumers throughout the region. In 2009, the company used their $49,900 Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) to grow and expand their business by selling products over the internet.

Today, the company sells and ships custom-ordered cuts of beef (steaks, roasts, and specialty cuts) to consumers and businesses all over the United States.

In 2010, Ecotrust of Portland, Oregon, used their $249,340 Rural Business Opportunity Grant to market their FoodHub internet website – an online directory and marketplace that connects regional farmers, grocers, restaurants, and wholesales – to food producers and buyers. The FoodHub website helps agricultural producers tap into the growing local foods market by shortening the supply chain between producers, sellers, and consumers. The RBOG will also be used to provide training and assistance to businesses that want to sell through the website.

In June 2010, 550 companies used FoodHub. Today, almost 3,600 businesses in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and California use FoodHub to market their products.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President is committed to using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers, and to improve the quality of life in rural areas.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


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