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Federal stimulus funds boost local economy

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news Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Stimulus funding has added more than $3 million to the Hubbard County economy, in grants and loans.

Although recipients of those funds have reported only four jobs created with the funds, that figure is misleading.

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Several area businesses have obtained stimulus loans to start or enlarge businesses. Job growth for these loans is not provided. Like any loans, the monies must be repaid. But the Recovery Act (officially the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, passed on Feb. 13) loans are available to small businesses that are unable to obtain financing in the private credit marketplace.

Additionally, school districts, weatherization agencies, housing agencies and others have been the beneficiaries of government largesse.

The $787 billion Recovery Act's stated goals are to:

- Create new jobs and save existing ones. An example of this is the Park Rapids Police Department's grant of $179,326, which will pay the salary of one officer for the next three years for community policing. The federal grant replaced a three-year state grant that was expiring.

- Spur economic development and investment in long-term economic growth.

- "Foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending."

The controversial bill aims to achieve these goals by providing $288 billion in tax cuts for working class families and businesses, designating education and public health as entitlement programs that will receive $224 billion, making $275 billion available for federal contracts, grants and loans and requiring recipients of the Recovery funds to report quarterly on their progress; the status of each project or business aided.

- Park Rapids, Nevis and Laports school districts all received funds for "support of public elementary, secondary and postsecondary education and, as applicable, early childhood education programs and services. In this category, Laporte received $123,569; Nevis received $226,441 and Park Rapids received $651,584.

- School districts also received Title 1 funding to "improve teaching and learning for students most at risk of failing to meet state academic achievement standards. In this category Laporte received $43,840; Nevis received $29,210 and Park Rapids received $183,703.

Additionally Park Rapids received $28,697 for special education related services for children with disabilities who will reach age 3 during the school year; $701,090 for the education of children with disabilities and $16,686 for an early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities.

Here is the remaining list of Recovery Act projects in Hubbard County.

- Park Rapids will receive a $400,000 grant for the construction of a production water well and a wellhouse associated with treatment and monitoring equipment.

- Federal transit funds of $64,000 will be used to purchase 50 new buses for rural transit providers and seven new buses for the provision of public subsidized intercity transportation services.

- Hubbard County received $12,231 in grant monies for a Justice Assistance program. The money was used to purchase Taser and camera equipment.

- Hubbard County Housing and Redevelopment Authority received $91,500 to purchase and install new kitchen and bath cabinets, countertops and sinks for the Riverview Heights apartment complex.

"Under the Recovery Act, all products purchased must be American made," said HRA executive director Sharon Voyda. "That can be tricky." Additionally, the products installed must be energy efficient.

The local businesses that received loans include:

- Bella Caffe LLC, $245,000. Owner Thom Peterson said the funds were a commercial loan to purchase the Third Street Market. Bella Caffe did not receive the money, he said, although it is listed as the recipient on the government Web site.

- The Good Life Café, a new Park Rapids restaurant that opened earlier this year on Main Avenue. It received a $144,000 loan.

- Stompin' & Amos: Grounds Lodge & Company Inc., of Akeley, received a $25,000 loan.

- Kathryn M. Plumley, who purchased Bullwinkle's restaurant earlier this year in Nevis, received a $161,500 loan.

- Summerhill Farm, Inc., which operates a specialty business on North Highway 71, received a $25,000 loan.

- Ryan Leckner, doing business as Detail Shop in Park Rapids, received a $165,750 loan.

- Emerald Lawns, Inc., of Park Rapids, received a $60,000 loan.

K&K Enterprises Inc., of Park Rapids, received a $30,000 loan.

To track the Recovery Act money, you can log on to www.recovery.gov/transparency/pages/home.aspx?State=MN.

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