USDA State Director Jack Smith spoke at a Prescott Valley Early Bird Lions Meeting and touted the many programs available for rural areas.
“As far as infrastructure, many people lack knowledge of the programs that are available to the rural communities… that’s what we are finding across the board,” Smith explained.
For example, the shortlist of programs available include water and waste disposal loans and grants, development assistant grants, business and industry loans and various housing loans.
Smith said one could look at the USDA as a commercial bank with the ability to provide federal grants. As far as the loans go, the department guarantees the loans at a low interest rate and helps offset the costs associated with necessary studies and reports.
Regarding bolstering tourism, the USDA partners with chambers of commerce and economic development foundations throughout the state.
The department also assists with first responder needs such as equipment as well as health and safety services to include fire and rescue stations.
This year, so far, the department has provided more than 30 million in community facilities grants.
This director understands the needs of rural Arizona. “I liked the boots on the ground approach when I was a county supervisor.”
Smith served District 5 beginning in 2013 and began his role as USDA state director in July 2019. His main goal is to bring prosperity to Arizona’s rural communities while ensuring infrastructure remains safe and available.
The Trump Administration tapped Smith for the director position through Congressman Paul Gosar’s office and, “It was a no-brainer to put my application in,” Smith said.
On the day he was chosen as the state director, Smith recalled that he and his wife were celebrating their ten-year wedding anniversary in Rome.
“We were sitting on the steps of the Vatican when I received the news,” Smith said.
For a complete list of Arizona USDA programs, visit www.rd.usda.gov/az.