Apr 13, 2023 - News

Arkansas lands $20M from USDA for rural projects

Photo: courtesy of Sen. John Boozman

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Arkansas $20 million for seven projects that aim to improve quality of life for rural parts of the state.

  • Sen. John Boozman made the announcement Monday in Fayetteville at a panel discussion, along with Xochitl Torres Small, USDA's undersecretary for rural development.

Why it matters: USDA Rural Development helps remote communities get access to modern water and wastewater systems, as well as community facilities and health care services.

  • These are basic — but critical — infrastructures needed for rural communities to grow.

By the numbers: Of the $20 million, $13.4 million will come in the form of loans; another $6.5 million are grants.

Of note: Boozman is the ranking member of the Senate's Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Details: The seven projects in Arkansas include:

  • $7.4 million, including $5.7 million in grant form, to the city of Mountainburg for a water system extension for about 350 users who don't have a potable water supply. Many residents haul their water from a nearby source.
  • $5 million in loan funding was awarded to 1st Choice Healthcare for a new clinic in Pocahontas to meet the increased need for medical services.
  • $405,000 was granted to the Crawford-Sebastian Community Development Council to finance a nonprofit providing technical assistance to build 15 homes for low-income families in rural Crawford, Franklin and Sebastian counties.

What they're saying: The panel also discussed expanding broadband internet access, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

  • "We used to say economic development had three 'Rs' — roads, railroads and runways," Boozman said. "Not anymore. If you don't have good broadband, you simply aren't going to grow."
  • None of the USDA awards are earmarked for broadband.

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