The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $1.45 million in grants and nearly $3.9 million in loans to a host of projects across rural Iowa. U.S.D.A. Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien says that includes a $300,000 grant that’ll benefit the central Iowa town of Gilbert.

The grant will help finance the construction of a building that will be used as a fire station, city hall, and community center. Other grants and loans will help build a fire station in Waukon, finance renovations to the Knoxville Hospital and Clinic, and help the Monogram Prepared Meats plant in Harlan expand its food processing capacity.

The Iowa Foundation for Microenterprise and Community Vitality, headquartered in Boone, is also getting a $200,000 loan and a $50,000 grant to help what O’Brien calls micro-businesses. “Businesses with 10 or fewer (employees),” O’Brien says. “This is another example of how the U.S.D.A. is able to partner with entities in a rural place and help serve small businesses, improve the quality of life, and create jobs.”

O’Brien is a native of Dubuque County. He says, across the country, the U.S.D.A. is awarding $59 million in grants and loans to projects similar to those in Iowa.