Usda Announces $325 Million For Economic Investment In Rural Communities
The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making $325 million in loans and grants available to rural communities to strengthen distance learning and telemedicine programs that serve rural America.
“Bringing specialized health care and expanded educational programs to rural areas will save lives and improve the quality of health care for residents who live in more sparsely populated areas of the country,” said Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Gilbert Gonzalez.
Telemedicine technology makes it possible for doctors to examine and direct the treatment of patients without being physically present. The distance learning program finances equipment to expand educational resources to students and educational institutions in isolated rural areas.
Since 2000, over $100 million has been invested in local distance learning and telemedicine programs, allowing 1,384 rural educational facilities to expand their access to modern telecommunications technology, and 658 health care institutions to develop technologies needed to enhance local medical care.
Applications for $15 million in grants are scored and awarded on a competitive basis. Applications for the grant/loan combinations and loans can be submitted through out the fiscal year and are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Additional information on the USDA Rural Development distance learning and telemedicine program for 2004 is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov. USDA Rural Development’s mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development provides equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.