U.S. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, announce $8.5 million for 16 economic development projects in 10 states including Iowa. Vilsack says the U.S.D.A. is giving grants and loans through a partnership with rural utility co-ops for things like ethanol plants and hospitals.

Vilsack says the partnership with co-ops has been going on for a number of years and has allowed them to expand not only utilities, but health care centers as well as creating new jobs and meet the president’s goal of “winning the future.” Vilsack says there are five projects in Iowa. He says the Farmers Mutual Telephone Company of Stanton will receive a $300,000 grant to help build a multi-purpose community center.

The center will include a pre-school, a library, recreation/fitness facility and safe shelter for residents. The Heartland Power Cooperative is receiving a $750,000 no interest loan for a bio-diesel refinery outside Forest City that will create 16 jobs.

A project in eastern Iowa also involves a library. Vilsack says the Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative will receive a $300,000 grant to finance a library expansion to help increase educational and training opportunities. The Sanborn Electric and Telecommunications Utility will receive a $176,000 grant to enlarge the Prairieview nursing home facility.

The Western Iowa Telephone Association will receive $300,000 for a local revolving loan fund. Vilsack says the revolving loan fund will include office space in Moville where they will make loans to businesses to help them expand and create more jobs.

Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, also announced projects today for Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee.