ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The federal government announced Friday a $60.5 million investment to modernize and improve Belmont County’s water system.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the investment represents the single-largest monetary obligation in Ohio Rural Development History.
County, state and federal officials made the announcement in the county courthouse. Anne Hazlett, assistant to Secretary for Rural Development, said the USDA is providing a $45.5 million direct loan combined with a nearly $15 million grant through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program.
“We know that infrastructure is a foundation for rural prosperity,” she said. “Not just for quality of life, for public health and safety, but also for economic opportunity.”
When I read articles like this I am reassured that those in the state house and an Washington are ready and willing to jump in to help, when our efforts to attract large scale petrochemical activities come to fruition. In the example set forth in the PTT/Daelim project it is clear that many hands have to be willing to dig in when it comes to securing these transformational projects.
What we must remember from this however, that there is a key word in here………………LOAN. Loans are not grants. In this case the $15 million dollar grant came as a result of the willingness to engage in a $45 million dollar loan program. The adage that governments help those who help themselves hasn’t been more true as of late. The belief in the project by those in the county and those elected officials running it was the bedrock by which a great deal like this was struck. Recognizing that the opportunity is before them and the time to act is now, these forward thinking individuals illustrated the faith they have that a project of this scope will change the region for the better. That is worth the 45 million dollar direct loan they applied for.
Infrastructure was quoted as being the foundation for rural prosperity. The same is true for us here in Washington County. It is my hope and has been my job to be a pied piper of sorts for our projects and to help ensure that when a great project comes along we have the same buy-in and belief that those folks north of us have.