USDA plans to spend money in Escambia Co.
By By Paul Keane
BREWTON – The USDA Rural Development Department wants to make investments in Escambia County, according to the state director.
Steve Pelham and his staff toured the county Wednesday, then gave a briefing to the public, business and government leaders and the media that afternoon. The event was hosted by Southern Pine Electric Co-Op.
"Over the past years, we've invested $125 million a year into Alabama through grants, direct loans and guaranteed loans," Pelham said. "We are allocated so many dollars each year to invest in our state, and whatever we don't use is used by other states.
"If we use up all of our funding, then there is a good chance that we can get unused funds from other states. But we have to clean our plate every year before we can go back for seconds. Last year, we left a little on the plate. This year and in the future, we want to clean our plate by investing all of our available funds in the state."
Pelham and his staff toured Alto Industries in Atmore, both the current and new industrial parks in Atmore, the industrial park in Brewton and NDI in Brewton.
"It's neat to see how a company like Alto or NDI operates," Pelham said. "I know that Alto does business around the world, and they do some excellent work out there. NDI is also a strong company here in the county.
"I was in a store in Washington, D.C., recently and picked up a piece of merchandise that had been made by NDI right here in Brewton. The clerk at the store told me that the NDI products are in great demand because they are of such a high quality. That speaks highly of the workmanship of people in this area."
Pelham and his staff then explained the many opportunities offered by USDA Rural Development through its many programs. Included in those are the Rural Housing Service, USDA Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program and other financing options.
Pelham and his staff also compiled a list of needs from the audience. Those needs for the county identified during the meeting included healthcare facility improvements, helping fix an aging water and sewer system in Atmore, infrastructure needs for Atmore's new industrial park, fire plugs for Freemanville's water system, a community/senior citizen center in Flomaton, enlarging Turtle Point Environmental Center and money for county libraries.
Staff members said all that was needed to possibly obtain funding would be to contact the Bay Minette office of USDA Rural Development and make application.
For more information on the programs, call the USDA Rural Development at 937-7350.