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Wrangell Hospital Secures $20 million Construction Loan

USDA funds several rural development projects in Southeast Alaska

A new medical center for the community of Wrangell tops the list of rural development projects funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today announced the projects, in coordination with the U.SForest Service, funded as part of the USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program to help finance essential community facilities and programs for public use in rural areas.

“These are the best types of investments – creating jobs and building infrastructure in some of our more remote areas,” Begich said. “When we’re building hospitals and libraries and similar structures, we are promoting sustainable economic development and keeping Alaskans employed.”

"This is good news – a significant piece of the financing package that will make the new hospital a reality and provide better health care and good jobs for our community," said Noel Rea, CEO of Wrangell Medical Center. "I appreciate the commitment of USDA's Alaska staff, and of Senator Begich for bird-dogging this project all the way along."

The USDA loan is part of a larger financing package for the new hospital put together by the community of Wrangell. Sen. Begich wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to urge support of the loan as a critical piece of the overall funding plan.

The funding for Alaska projects is a combination of loans and grants totaling just over $22 million in several communities. The projects include:

· Wrangell Medical Center $19,500,000 (loan)

-construction of new community hospital

· Annette Island Packing (Metlakatla)                       $ 1,630,800 (grant)

-construction of seafood processor housing

Ketchikan Indian Corporation $275,000 (grant)

-purchase equipment for new Vocational-Technical School

· Juneau Econ. Development Council                       $240,000 (grant)

-Forest Service asset mapping and regional economic planning

· City of Petersburg                                                     $200,000 (grant)

-construct and furnish new energy efficient public library

· Wrangell Medical Center                                         $100,000 (grant)

-purchase greenhouse/community garden/farmer’s market

· Juneau Econ. Development Council                       $ 99,837 (grant)

-woody biomass technical assistance project

· City of Wrangell                                                        $ 67,000 (grant)

-purchase automation equipment for the public library

“I support coordinated efforts by Rural Development and the Forest Service to follow through on their commitment to help communities in Southeast Alaska diversify their economies as one part of the proposed transition in the Tongass. I view these projects as a down payment on that commitment, and look forward to the approval of additional projects in the near future,” Begich said.

Officials from USDA and the U.S. Forest Service will provide more details of the projects Thursday in Ketchikan during a meeting of the Tongass Futures Roundtable.

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