Rural Development official sees positive future for Stutsman County
Jasper Schneider, director of Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in North Dakota, sees a positive future for the area.
“Stutsman County is incredibly well-positioned,” he said. “It’s having its own boom in agriculture, rural manufacturing and biofuels. The USDA has played a significant role in this and will play a significant role in the future.”
Schneider said the agency had made loans and grants of $506 million across North Dakota this past year. The funding provided housing as well as infrastructure projects across the state with about 60 percent going to the counties in western North Dakota affected by the oil industry. The information was included in the agency’s annual progress report. The report is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov/nd.
Rural Development has also participated in the financing of several local projects.
“We’ve done a lot of work with Stutsman Rural Water District and Daktel (Dakota Central Telecommunications),” he said. “But Jamestown Regional Medical Center is our flagship project in this area.”
JRMC was completed in July 2011. A clinic building has since been added.
“The medical center continues to grow,” Schneider said. “But other things are being discussed. The library issue surfaces from time to time. The Anne Carlsen Center is talked about. The energy park (Spiritwood Energy Park Association) is increasing in excitement. Going forward, Jamestown’s better days are ahead of it.”
The James River Valley Library System is in the process of exploring options for a new building for a library. The Anne Carlsen Center owns land near JRMC and may consider an expansion or relocation in the future. The Dakota Spirit AgEnergy ethanol plant is under construction in the SEPA industrial park. Rural Development helped finance DSA and could be a financing partner for the other projects.
“The bottleneck for Jamestown, and much of North Dakota, is housing and workforce issues,” Schneider said.
Jamestown and Stutsman County will need to take the lead in solving those issues, Schneider said.
“The thing holding Jamestown back is themselves,” he said. “The USDA wants to be a partner in building a better Jamestown.”
Schneider said private investment can be supplemented with government loans and guarantees to help make the area stronger.
“Reinvesting back into the community,” he said. “That’s what contributes to building a stronger rural community.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org