The Town of Smithfield welcomed Doug O'Brien, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development.   Mr. O'Brien announced investments totaling $85 million in 54 projects in 25 states and one territory to improve rural community facilities such as schools, health care facilities, libraries and first responder services and equipment.

North Carolina will receive a total of $9.8 million for the Town of Smithfield, Winterville Community Rural Fire Association, Town of Ahoskie, Neuse Charter School and City of Dunn.

The Town of Smithfield is receiving $2,806,400 for the Smithfield Crossings project.  The $8.2 million total project cost is possible because of federal, state and local funding support.  The funds will be used to construct a safe and efficient traffic circulation system for the I-95 (Exit 95) and Hwy 70 Business roadway.  The high volume of traffic especially during peak commuting hours is creating a dangerous situation for the southbound I-95 travelers.  The roadways in this area serve the retail outlet area, Johnston Community College and the businesses located along Industrial Drive.  Closure of this exit would jeopardize the future growth of the retail areas which will significantly impact a primary revenue stream for the Town and the County.  It is estimated that this area represents as high as 80 percent of all sales tax revenue.

Neuse Charter School, the only charter school in Johnston County, is the recipient of a loan guarantee of $2,790,000 from USDA Rural Development and Self Help Credit Union.  The funds will be used for the purchase of a 26 acre site to be developed for additional modular units, space for physical education and future growth of the school.  The current enrollment for grades K - 9 is 392 students.  The addition of grades 10 - 12 is planned which will require additional modular units.  The charter school was recognized as a 2009 NC School of Distinction and 2010 NC Honor School of Excellence.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. USDA Rural Development administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs as laid out by Congress.  These programs area designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, foster growth in homeownership, finance business development, and support the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure.

USDA Rural Development has 9 Area Offices and 11 field offices across the state serving North Carolinians living in rural areas and communities.  Area Office locations are in Asheville, Jefferson, Asheboro, Henderson, Lumberton, Smithfield, Greenville, Kinston and Shelby.  Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting the USDA Rural Development website.

Contact: Delane Johnson