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Vermont gets $228.8 million through USDA Recovery Act funds

first_imgIn Vermont USDA Rural Development is investing over $228.8 million, of which $106.4 million is funding small businesses, water and wastewater infrastructure, community facilities like libraries and community centers, and housing. An additional $ 122.4 million has been awarded for broadband infrastructure to bring better service to rural communities.USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager issued a report on October 20 about how the agency’s distribution of loan and grant funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery) has helped rural residents throughout the nation. Rural Development has awarded $21.2 billion in Recovery funds through 95,000 loans and 2,500 grants. The report estimates that millions of business owners, agricultural producers, Internet users, and thousands of homeowners will benefit, and over 300,000 jobs are being created or saved. ‘With Rural Development’s loans and grants we have leveraged our Recovery Act funds to ensure the greatest bang for the taxpayer’s buck, allowing our agency to make unprecedented and lasting investments in rural America,’ said Tonsager. ‘I am proud of what we have accomplished over the last two years toward building livable, innovative and sustainable rural communities.’‘USDA’s investment of Recovery funding provided immediate jobs in construction and permanent jobs in many other industry sectors while laying the foundation for a sustainable economic recovery in our rural communities,’ said USDA Rural Development State Director Molly Lambert.For example, the Brattleboro Food Co-op received a USDA Rural Development Business and Industry award to guarantee a $4.2 million loan from Peoples United Bank. Members of the Brattleboro Co-op also raised $1 million in shareholder loans for the new $8.9 million facility. The funding will allow the cooperative to expand its existing 17,000 sq. ft. retail facility into a newly constructed, energy-efficient 33,847 sq. ft. building in the heart of downtown Brattleboro. The project will create 9 new high quality jobs, support 100 existing well-paying jobs at the coop and create 400 indirect construction jobs. In conjunction with the Co-op development, the Windham Housing Trust will develop 24 units of affordable housing on floors 3 and 4. The coop was founded in 1975 as a member-owned cooperative in leased space and serves as a hub for regional sustainable food.  It provides a local market for 146 local farmers and 56 local food processors.Business loan guarantees in two additional communities totaling $ 11.2 million leveraged $23 million in private capital, creating 34 high quality jobs and strengthening the future for 105 existing jobs. A Business Enterprise Grant in the amount of $65,000 was issued to the Randolph Area Community Development Corp. to assist 2 businesses with expansion and feasibility efforts.  The grant was matched with $183,500 of community funding for a total project cost of $248,500.  The project will create 3 new jobs and strengthen 23 existing jobs in the community.Bethel residents recently gathered to celebrate the restoration and re-opening of the old Town Hall, made possible by a Recovery loan of $984,000 matched with $316,000 in private and other public investment. ‘The building has been drawn out of functional obsolescence and fabulously restored with its authentic features retained,’ said Bethel Town Manager Delbert Cloud. Designed in 1891 by Montpelier architect George Guernsey the building was home to the school basketball team, traveling performers, town meetings and Saturday roller skating. The school has its own gymnasium these days, but residents are once more enjoying community events in the grand building standing tall on Main Street. \In addition to the Bethel town hall restoration, Recovery funding of $7.3 million assisted twenty-four community projects throughout the state such as daycare and family services facilities, libraries, health centers, homeless shelters and fire and emergency equipment.Nine Water and Wastewater projects were awarded to seven communities for $35,633,300 in Recovery funding, creating or retaining 140 jobs.In an otherwise sluggish housing recovery, the combination of Recovery funds and normal year USDA appropriations for housing loans is helping more Vermont households achieve home ownership than in any year since 1994. Nearly 550 households are being assisted with $90 million in loans with the Recovery Act providing over $47 million of this amount.In Vermont the agency helped almost 550 households (an increase of 66 households over 2009) by using over $70 M in Loan Guarantees and $20 M in Direct loans.The link to Rural Development and the Recovery Act: Working For Rural Communities can be found at the USDA Rural Development homepage: is external). President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law last year.  It is designed to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need. For information about USDA’s Recovery Act efforts visit is external).  More information about the Federal government’s efforts on the Recovery Act is available at is external).Source: USDA. 10.20.2010     Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facilities programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation’s capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.      #last_img read more

WHO seeks urgent push for pandemic flu vaccines

first_imgOct 23, 2006 (CIDRAP News) –Warning that the world is billions of doses short of the amount of vaccine needed to prepare for an influenza pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) today called for an urgent and coordinated international effort to make up the deficit.The agency recommended an immediate campaign to boost vaccine production capacity and develop vaccines that would provide broader and more durable protection—while cautioning that such efforts will not bear fruit for another 3 to 5 years.”We are presently several billion doses short of the amount of pandemic influenza vaccine we would need to protect the global population,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research, said in a news release. “This could lead to a public health crisis.””Importantly, none of the strategies will be able to fill the gap in the immediate short term but, if action is taken now, should bear fruit within a future time frame of three to five years,” states the official summary of the WHO’s “Global pandemic influenza action plan to increase vaccine supply.”The report is the product of a meeting of 120 experts in Geneva in May.The WHO estimates the cost of the needed initiatives at US $3 billion to $10 billion.The world’s current production capacity for seasonal flu vaccine is estimated at 350 million doses a year, which could perhaps be pushed to 500 million doses with round-the-clock operation (each dose containing 15 micrograms of antigen for each of three flu strains), the report says.  Current expansion plans are expected to add another 280 million doses of annual capacity over the next 2 to 3 years, pushing the total to a maximum of 780 million doses.Under the most optimistic assumptions, if all facilities converted to making a single-strain pandemic flu vaccine, maximum world capacity by 2008 or 2009 would be about 2.34 billion doses, the report says. Given a world population of 6.7 billion, this would fall several billion doses short of the expected demand in a pandemic, it states.Further, it says that current egg-based production methods don’t work nearly as well for H5N1 flu vaccines as they do for seasonal flu vaccines. As a result, the current maximum capacity to make H5N1 vaccine is only about 500 million (single-strain) doses a year. Because each person would probably need two doses, only 250 million people could be fully vaccinated in a year.The WHO lays out three main steps for closing the vaccine supply gap:Increase use of seasonal flu vaccine to stimulate industry to produce more (while protecting more people from seasonal flu)Increase vaccine production capacity by improving yields and building new plantsIncrease research to (1) develop better vaccines that provide more protection with fewer doses and (2) produce vaccines faster and more efficientlyThe most direct way to improve production capacity is to increase the production yield and immunogenicity of H5N-based vaccines, the report says. The WHO hopes to improve coordination of efforts in this area by “creating a collaborative consortium of laboratories with the objective of developing better candidate prototype vaccine strains.”The plan lists various possibilities for building new vaccine production facilities, including transferring egg-based or cell-culture production to potential new manufacturers and partially converting veterinary vaccine production facilities to produce human flu vaccines.The report says various strategies may help increase production yields. Several candidate vaccines containing adjuvants—chemicals that stimulate the immune system—will be tested over the next 2 years, but funding will be needed to accelerate the systematic evaluation of the formulations under development, the WHO says.The agency also calls for more research on live attenuated flu vaccines, saying they may be more effective than inactivated vaccines, cost less to produce, and have higher yields. The plan also advocates further assessment of killed, whole-virus vaccines and of administering vaccines intradermally rather than intramuscularly.The WHO estimates the cost of all the strategies for boosting vaccine yields and production capacity at anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion.Concerning the quest for better vaccines, the report says the ideal vaccine is one that is safe and effective in all target groups with a single dose, is easily produced on a large scale, is thermostable, provides protection for at least a year, and protects against “antigenically drifted” flu strains.The report recommends a number of approaches for developing better vaccines:Evaluate new adjuvantsAssess the molecular basis for the immunogenicity of hemagglutinin, one of the two surface proteins on flu virusesDevelop new-generation vaccines, such as ones that target viral proteins other than hemagglutininDetermine the potential benefits of giving a pre-pandemic vaccine to prime the immune system to respond to later vaccination with a pandemic vaccine.The plan also advocates standardizing protocols for evaluating new vaccine candidates and defining immune responses in lab animals that correlate with protection in humans.See also:Oct 23 WHO news release report read more