From the Desk of State Director Colleen Landkamer
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Minnesota on April 20 to host a roundtable discussion on biofuels and renewable energy at CHS Inc. ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818073/1403498/goto:http://www.chsinc.com/ ) in Inver Grove Heights. During the roundtable, the Secretary highlighted how a new provision in Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818074/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/RBS/Section%209006%20Renewable%20Energy%20Program.htm )) allows Rural Development to finance flex fuel pumps, sometimes called "blender pumps."
The new provision provides incentives for fuel station owners to install flex fuel pumps that offer more renewable energy options. President Obama has set a goal of installing 10,000 flex fuel pumps nationwide within 5 years.
Minnesota has enjoyed tremendous success ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818075/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/RBS/New%20RBS%20Page/RE-EF/FY%202010%20Minnesota% ) through the REAP program since it was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. The ability to finance the installation of flex fuel pumps makes the program even stronger.
I encourage local leaders to refer fuel station owners interested in learning more about the REAP program and the flex fuel provision to one of our local offices ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818076/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/offices.htm ). Our REAP website ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818077/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/RBS/Section%209006%20Renewable%20Energy%20Program.htm ) also is a valuable tool when researching information about the program. Lisa Noty (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=), our Energy Coordinator based in Albert Lea, also is an excellent resource for program information and questions.
It has been exciting to watch our REAP program grow over the years. The program has already benefited many farmers and rural small businesses in Minnesota. Now it can help fuel station owners too.
Colleen Landkamer (mailto:Colleen.Landkamer@mn.usda.gov?subject=)
Over $43 Million in Recovery Act Funds Will Deliver Broadband Access to Rural Portions of Northeast Minnesota
Wednesday, April 20, 2011, marked an important day for the Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) and rural northeastern Minnesota. Ground was broken on a $43.5 million project that will supply high-speed broadband Internet access across eight counties and surrounding areas in the region.
The project was financed by USDA Rural Development using funds made available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818078/1403498/goto:http://www.recovery.gov/ ), signed into law by President Obama in February of 2009.
This project will provide a number of opportunities to these rural communities, said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director. Access to high-speed broadband allows for a more competitive business and residential marketplace. It also increases educational opportunities and access to quality healthcare.
The project will give people in northeastern Minnesota the same access to faster broadband services ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818079/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RUSTelecomPrograms.html ) as those in larger cities, increasing opportunities for distance learning, telemedicine and job creation.
We knew that a big part of the stimulus package was creating world broadband, said U.S. Senator Al Franken, who attended the groundbreaking. It obviously will create jobs in doing this project; it is also going to create economic development in the short run and in the long run.
Rural Networks, a Canadian-based company, is supplying the fiber optics necessary to complete the project. Rural Networks is working with local northeastern Minnesotan subcontractors to provide the labor for the project, which involves 915 miles of fiber optic network stretched across eight counties in the Arrowhead region of rural Minnesota. About 400 miles of network are expected to be completed by early fall of 2011. The remaining 515 miles will be completed sometime in late 2013.
The project is expected to create 90 jobs during the 2011 portion of construction and 200 jobs when it is eventually completed.
Ground was broken on April 20 for a major broadband project in Northeastern Minnesota. The project was made possible by the Recovery Act.
MNCARH Conference is May 10 and 11
The Minnesota Council for Affordable and Rural Housing will hold its 20th annual meeting and conference on May 10 and 11 at the Grand Hotel and Conference Center in Hinckley.
Participants can earn up to 11.5 real estate continuing education credits by attending. Those attending the conference can participate in sessions such as, "Saving You Money on Your Energy Bill," "Is Your Tenant Under the Influence?", "The Prepayment Implications of the Emergency Low-Income Housing Preservation Act (ELIHPA)," "Working with Generations," "Bed Bugs," "Social Media," and a humorous key-note presentation that will be sure to make you laugh.
There also will be updates from Colleen Landkamer on news from USDA Rural Development. MNCARH is still accepting registrations. For more information or to register, e-mail email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 1-800-944-3078.
Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day in Fergus Falls, Wendell and Ashby
A project funded by Rural Development using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped build a new 105-bed senior care center in Fergus Falls, Minn. It also was recognized as an Earth Day ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818080/1403498/goto:http://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2011 ) project during the month of April for its environmentally-friendly design and energy efficiency.
The new Pioneer Care ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818081/1403498/goto:http://www.pioneercare.org/ ) facility created additional jobs in the region and improved access to quality health care. The new building also includes storm water management ponds used for site irrigation, a 60 percent reduction in air filtration, and the use of recycled materials in construction, more natural lighting and energy-efficient roofing and insulation.
Rural Development prides itself as a leader in projects that improve our environment, said Colleen Landkamer, USDA Rural Development State Director.
By providing programs that fund projects in rural communities that demonstrate a commitment to environmental protection, we build communities that are sustainable and positioned for long-term growth.
Rural Development also recognized projects in Wendell and Ashby for Earth Day.
Currently, the city of Wendell is unable to meet all drinking water standards mandated by the Minnesota Department of Health. Funds provided by Rural Development will finance the construction of a packaged water treatment facility that meets Department of Health standards and requirements.
Funds will also go toward the installation of water meters, allowing the city to improve its billing and measurement, providing environmentally efficient water regulation.
A third project inspired by Earth Day is funding for the replacement of an old wastewater collection system and pump station in Ashby ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818082/1403498/goto:http://www.ashbyminnesota.org/ ). The new collection system will prevent the bypass of untreated wastewater and reduce pollution in the area.
Cutting the ribbon on the new Pioneer Care facility on April 15 in Fergus Falls.
Register Today for the 2011 Minnesota Indian Housing Conference
The 2011 Minnesota Indian Housing Conference is scheduled for June 1-3 at Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn. The conference will bring together tribal leaders, tribal housing board members, tribal professionals from housing social services and health along with federal, state, and local government housing professionals and practitioners.
Visit the conference website for complete details and to register. ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818083/1403498/goto:http://www.mnihc.com/ )
Secretary Vilsack's news conference from CHS Inc. can be viewed here. ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818084/1403498/goto:http://theuptake.org/2011/04/20/agriculture-secretary-vilsack-senator-klobuchar-see-biofuels-as-sustainable-energy-solution/ )
April's spotlight program is the Water and Wastewater program ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818085/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/UWEP_HomePage.html ).
Want to learn which communities recently received Rural Development funding? Check out the recent funding section ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818086/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/Recent%20Funding.htm )of our website.
Visit the office locations section of our website to find the local Rural Development office ( http://e2ma.net/go/7049768849/208546227/221818087/1403498/goto:http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mn/offices.htm )in your area.