USDA officials say rural housing is key to developing the area - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

USDA officials say rural housing is key to developing the area

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    The USDA representatives said they were impressed with how the Roth Industrial Park will be adding a new business that takes waste products and turn it into a renewable fuel.As part of the renewable fuel discussion was the need for bio-fuels, like ethanol, and the USDA's continuing to support of the industry.More >>
    The USDA representatives said they were impressed with how the Roth Industrial Park will be adding a new business that takes waste products and turn it into a renewable fuel.As part of the renewable fuel discussion was the need for bio-fuels, like ethanol, and the USDA's continuing to support of the industry.More >>
IDA COUNTY, Iowa (KTIV) -

HOLSTEIN, Iowa (KTIV) - Big players in the national agricultural world joined Siouxland's conversation on recruiting folks to work and live in rural towns.

A representative from the U.S. Department of Agriculture started on a three-state tour of the midwest on Monday to talk about promoting the job market and economy in rural towns.

Lillian Salerno, the Administrator for USDA Rural Development's Rural Business, started the tour in Holstein, Iowa.

Salerno noted that in Siouxland, jobs in the renewable fuels industry are abundant, to the point where start-up companies are having difficulties finding people to work those open jobs, because of their rural location.

"We're not getting the priority. I mean, let's face it, they're going to where the numbers are, and that's a serious problem," Jim Cooney, Director of Human Resources for VT Industries said.

Salerno is touring to chat with rural business people, like Jim Cooney from VT industries, about the challenges facing rural areas. She says housing the potential employees is one of the biggest problems.

"In these rural communities, we've got young people and citizens trying to live on 12 to 13 dollars an hour, and they have no housing. So we need to think creatively about how to make resources available to rehabilitate some of the housing," Salerno said.

Salerno says attracting young people and families to rural areas is difficult with limited broadband access and a lack of new or affordable housing.

Those she met with agreed.

"The young people, they want to come back, but they're looking for housing, and they're looking for things to do," Cooney said.

Salerno said the USDA is trying to do their part with Federal funding programs to promote development in rural areas, where good agricultural work is happening and available.

She said her favorite part of touring Northwest Iowa was seeing the work at places like Quad County Corn Processors, because the innovative work being done inside is crucial not only to Iowa's economy, but to the country's as a whole.

"We're looking at every opportunity to take every piece of the agricultural process and turn it into any kind of a 'value-add' product, and they had at least four value-add products that came out of there," Salerno said.

Value-add products that will continue being made, as long as employees can be housed in the area.

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