USDA Director praises work in Troy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 9, 1999

Staff Writer

Dec. 8, 1999 10 PM

The State Director of USDA Rural Development told members of Troy Rotary Club about ways his agency is assisting in Pike County.

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Horace H. Horn Jr. spoke at the group’s meeting Tuesday. His program was sponsored by Troy Rotarians Marcus Paramore and Malon Murphy.

"We appreciate the leadership we see in Pike County and are glad to be a part of the progress here," Horn said.

He explained that the USDA Rural Development office is the umbrella organization for three agencies in Washington, D.C. – the Rural Business Service, Rural Housing Service and Rural Utility Service

"We work for the three of them delivering programs in Alabama," Horn said. "Congress allocates money to spend in Alabama on sustainable projects.

"Ten years down the road, they want to see that those projects are making a positive difference."

Through these agencies, several projects in Pike County are receiving funding, he said.

The Rural Housing Service works in Alabama by financing 18,000 apartment homes and 23,000 houses across the state. In Pike County, the agency financed 508 houses and 403 apartments.

"We provide a lot of people with safe, affordable places to live," Horn said.

The Rural Business Service provides business and industries loans through a guaranteed program, he said. One successful Troy business is financed by this type of loan, but Horn did not name it.

The service also offers the Rural Enterprise Business Grant Program, which provides $100,000 grants to government bodies and nonprofit agencies with funding.

"This grant usually passes through an industrial development board to a business," he said.

The Intermediary Lending Program helps the service give revolving loans of $2 million at a time with one percent interest. This loan goes from a government or business to the community and creates jobs, he said.

The Rural and Economic Development Loan Program goes through rural electric cooperatives, and southeast Alabama has one of the largest revolving funds in the state through its rural utilities.

USDA Rural Development is working on two new projects which should impact local residents, he said. The Telecommunications Distance Learning Program in conjunction with Troy State University will create an interactive classroom and provide instruction to local school systems.

"We realize rural school systems have trouble providing certain sciences and higher maths because of the lack of teachers in these areas," Horn said. "This project will provide these classes.

"It will be especially important to counties around here who will be able to take advantage of this."

A related program is Telemed which will connect rural medical clinics with regional hospitals.

USDA Rural Development has additional plans for Pike County. The agency will buy a new industrial park in Brundidge at the first of the new year, Horn said.

"This should expand what Pike County has to offer and have a positive impact," he said.

Also, the agency is helping the Pike County Cattlemen’s Association build a community building to seat about 1,100 people off U.S. Highway 231 South of Troy, he added.

Horn has been state director of USDA Rural Development, formerly known as the Farmer’s Home Administration.

Prior to joining the USDA he worked for 15 years in the poultry industry as owner of Southeastern Farms. The farm has operations in Crenshaw and Blount counties.

He also served as president of Southeastern Structures, Inc., a commercial construction company and as president of Southeastern Bio-Gro, Inc., a commercial cooperator with Auburn University and the Tennessee Valley Authority in pioneering research and development in organic lawn and garden products.

Horn serves on the Alabama World Affairs Council, the Alabama Rural Rehabilitation Corporation Board of Directors, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee and the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Business Council of Alabama.