New Federal Money Available To Rim Country

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Three special initiatives could bring federal funds into the Rim country.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency has First Responder, Faith Based and Value Added Producer Grants that can put federal loan and grant money into Payson and other Rim country and rural communities.

"This is federal money for rural Arizona," said Eddie Browning, state director for the USDA RD agency. "Payson, Rye, Strawberry, Sunflower, and other rural communities throughout Arizona could see a tremendous infusion of new money through these initiatives.

"We're anxious to get these funds into your community where they can help build your economies and enhance the quality of your lives."

The First Responders initiative allows the agency to offer special consideration to public safety offices and agencies for needed capital improvement and equipment. City, county, volunteer and non-profit entities all may be eligible to compete for grants, loans and loan guarantees, according to information from the USDA RD agency.

Recent federal action has made many faith-based entities eligible to compete for low cost loans, guarantees and grants for community facility projects like child care or senior centers, schools, soup kitchens and more, Rian Clawson of the USDA RD said.

To be eligible, projects must serve all people in the community, regardless of religious affiliation.

Clawson said the Value Added Producer Grants initiative is designed to help agricultural businesses that make a product, add value to it and create an entirely new product. He cited the example of a tomato grower who normally sells his tomatoes wholesale, with the grant he would instead process them and turn them into salsa, adding value and profit potential to the original product.

A forum on the programs had been scheduled July 6 in Payson, but was canceled due to the Willow Fire.

"The first responders (fire and police personnel) were on the fire and our director felt it would not be appropriate to pull them off for this," said Clawson.

The forum will be held at a later date, he said, but has not yet been scheduled.

For more information, he recommends investigating the website, www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/coops/vadg.htm.

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