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Improving rural life

By Staff | Jul 29, 2010

Earlier this summer, rural America marked the 75th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing an executive order creating the Rural Electrification Administration, bringing power to rural areas.

Iowa is truly blessed to have a strong network of rural electric and rural telephone cooperatives, the lynchpins of economic development in rural America, leading the way. With nearly 150 local telephone cooperative members, the Iowa Telecommunications Association is the nation’s largest telephone association. The state’s electric cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 650,000 Iowans reaching all 99 counties.

Today, REA’s successor, USDA Rural Development, continues this commitment to the future of rural communities. The agency has a variety of direct and guaranteed rural lending programs involving single and multi-family housing, community facilities, water and sewer development and business growth across rural America.

Activities kicked off in Iowa with $6.1 million REA loan to Central Iowa Power Company on Sept. 24, 1935. This first loan began what has turned into a more than $6.6 billion investment by USDA Rural Development into rural Iowa. In addition to regular program dollars, this past year more than $234 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds came to Iowa through USDA Rural Development.

Plus, the agency has helped bring nearly $225 million in special disaster-related funds to help offset the impact of the floods and severe weather of 2008.

The involvement of USDA Rural Development has made, and will continue to make, a huge difference in the lives of rural Iowans.

In a way, it is a perfect of how government ought to work. Funding and staff designed to “be there” for the people – in this case America’s farmers and their families and the small communities they help support.

We appreciate what they do for all of us.

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