USDA programs benefit public, private sector
February 7, 2008
Craig — Pattie Snidow came home recently, if only for a few days.
After moving from Craig eight years ago to work on the Front Range – first as Greeley’s downtown development director and then the Western Colorado business development representative for then-Gov. Bill Owens – Tuesday was something of a homecoming.
About three years ago, Snidow started working as the west area director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program. Based out of the Craig and Delta offices, she is the agency’s top executive for 16 Western Slope counties.
“I lived in Craig for 25 years,” she said. “I raised my kids here. I moved eight years ago (to) Greeley. It didn’t feel like home. Western Colorado is home.”
Her trip from her new residence in Grand Junction wasn’t to reminisce, however. It was to inform the Commission how her agency can help buildup the community she remembers so fondly.
There’s a lot of money for a lot of projects available at USDA Rural Development, Snidow told the Moffat County Commission at its Tuesday meeting.
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The money is there for counties, cities and residents who apply.
“Our mission is to work with communities,” Snidow said. “We work with small business, nonprofits, municipalities, governing bodies. We work with both the public and private sector.”
Including people looking for a place to live.
For low-income residents, USDA offers a variety of home loan programs.
A person can receive a loan directly from USDA, which runs for 33 years at a fixed interest rate. Payments are based on income.
The mutual self-help housing loan program asks families to work together to build a group of homes and uses credit for any labor done against a direct loan from USDA. For example, a person could build up $20,000 in labor credit and that would be deducted from the direct loan to buy the house.
USDA also will guarantee home loans for low-income residents and offer loans – or grants in some cases – for home repairs.
The Commission asked Snidow to examine the possibility of Moffat County obtaining eligibility for USDA’s multi-family housing program. USDA can provide loans or loan guarantees for developers looking to build multi-family housing, such as apartments or assisted living centers.
Among its programs for businesses and public bodies, the agency provides loan guarantees to existing and startup small businesses up to 80 percent of the loan amount. The intent is to secure loans for people who may not qualify under normal bank standards.
For existing businesses, USDA offers assistance to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency. The federal government wants to help people upgrade their commercial buildings to better take advantage of available resources, Snidow said.
Her agency also provides dollars to establish economic development programs.
The rural business enterprise grant can be used to create a revolving loan fund – a bank of sorts for an economic development agency to lend money to projects – or it can be used to fund other infrastructure and construction projects.
For agriculture producers, USDA provides grants to set-up a value-added business, such as taking the milk produced by cows and using that to produce cheese.
For local government bodies, USDA can provide direct loans, loan guarantees or grants – or a combination of the three – through its community facilities program. Funds can be applied to build or renovate things such as hospitals, law enforcement centers, adult and child day care, social and cultural services or to purchase equipment for any of those projects.
For each possible program recipient mentioned, there are other offers, as well.
Snidow will be the first to admit her office had not done a good job informing the community of its programs, she told the Commission.
“We would like to see more projects coming out of Moffat County,” Snidow said. “I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you have a project coming up, call me,” she told the Commission.
Those interested in contacting the USDA Rural Development Craig office can call 824-3476 to find out about programs and how to apply.
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org