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Terry Brunner: New fund will help rural America

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Article by Las Cruces Sun-News

Recently, the White House Rural Council, chaired by the United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, announced the creation of a new U.S. Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund to allow private entities to invest in rural infrastructure projects across the nation. $10 billion has been pledged to start the Fund and it expects to grow with additional funds. Co Bank, a national cooperative bank serving rural America, is the anchor investor and Capital Peak Asset Management will manage the new fund.

With assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), this unique fund will target rural projects such as hospitals, schools, water systems, broadband, and energy systems. This positive development presents a tremendous opportunity for New Mexico to enhance its rural communities and economies at a time when it is needed most.

New Mexico's economy is on everyone's mind as we recover from the recession but our infrastructure also deserves serious attention. The 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure published by the American Society of Civil Engineers awarded New Mexico a "C" for the quality of its infrastructure. We need to do better in a state highly dependent on its highways, bridges and water systems. New Mexico's backlog of water projects alone stands at an estimated $900 million not to mention the schools, highways, hospitals, clinics and other public facilities in need of funding.

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