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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 13 / 53

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To help make this project a reality we obtained a $4.5 million low-interest loan from the USDA Rural Development.  This project allows us to provide more and better health care right in Sleepy Eye.  We've created new jobs.  We have increased the quality of health care to the residents of Sleepy Eye and the surrounding areas.  We're proud of our facility and very thankful for the loan that we received from the USDA Rural Development. Thank you. [Applause.] MODERATOR:  Thank you for your comment.  Now let's go over here. MR. JERRY MILLER:  Mr. Secretary, my name is Jerry Miller, and I am the executive director of MENDACA (sp).  It's good to see you again, by the way.  Welcome to Minnesota.  We are the professional association for programs that serve people with developmental disabilities.  There's about 230 of these programs in Minnesota.  They're located in 84 of the 87 counties.  And we provide services for about 12,000 with developmental disabilities. Last year these people earned over $37 million working for nearly 6,000 different businesses statewide. Over the last few years the Department of Agriculture has provided low-interest loans through Rural Development that are used for building facilities for these programs, and for an example, in May we opened a new program in Benson and just last week we had a grand opening to an addition to a building just down the road here in Olivia, Minnesota. The new facilities were a result of a cooperative effort between the program staff, counties, local businesses and the Department of Agriculture.  And it was a total community effort.

           They've enabled these communities to provide meaningful work and more importantly allowed people with developmental disabilities to remain at home and live in their rural communities.  These loans are invaluable, and they are very good fit-- Rural Development and the DD programs are a very good fit.  They work. I'd like to thank Steve Wenzel (sp) and his staff for all their hard work making this possible.  He's created a very effective and user-friendly office, and we just really enjoy working with him. Additionally, Mr. Secretary -- MODERATOR:  Sir, your time is about up.  Please conclude if you would. MR. MILLER:  I would like to personally thank you for your longstanding advocacy for people with developmental disabilities and their human rights.  And thank

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