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Recovery in Action: CA, FL, KY, NC, ND, TN

This week, the Vice President announced a $4.7 billion program to develop and improve high-speed Internet access to rural areas. This is just one of many exciting projects funded by the Recovery Act that are helping to rebuild our communities and lead us into a more prosperous future. Read about some of the Recovery projects across the country being talked about this week: 

National, Associated Press, 7/1/09:

"Vice President Joe Biden outlined a $4.7 billion loan and grant program Wednesday to develop the infrastructure needed to deliver broadband, or high-speed, Internet access to areas that are underserved or without access. America lags behind more than a dozen other countries in terms of Internet access and that has to change, Biden told about 200 people at Seneca High School, about 12 miles east of Erie. ‘The bottom line is, you can't function — a nation can't compete in the 21st century — without an immediate, high-quality access for everything from streaming video to information overline,’ Biden said. While Seneca has broadband Internet access, Biden said many students do not have access at home. Providing the means for access would improve educational opportunities, he said. He also spoke of the power of the Internet to create jobs in rural America. ‘We believe we are in the process of transforming rural America ... so it's integrated with the country, without losing its character,’ he said. The program also covers inner-city areas without broadband access. ‘Getting broadband to every American is a priority for this administration,’ Biden said. The $4.7 billion is part of $7.2 billion included in the federal stimulus package to improve rural Internet access."
"When built, HECA will bring clean power to over 150,000 homes in the local community, create new jobs and avoid the emissions of more than two million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. ‘California is a leader when it comes to innovation and clean technology, so it makes perfect sense that a hydrogen energy project be built here. This project is a fantastic use of Recovery Act dollars because it will not only create green collar construction jobs, but it will avoid greenhouse gas emissions and further propel us toward a clean energy future. The Schwarzenegger Administration has been working to get California’s fair share of federal stimulus funding and getting it out the door and into California’s economy as quickly and effectively as possible, and this project is a prime example of federal Recovery Act action in California.’ The HECA project is an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plant that will take petroleum coke, biomas, coal or blends of each, combined with non-potable water to convert them into hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). The hydrogen gas will be used to fuel a net 250-megawatt power station that will provide new, clean electric power to 150,000 homes in the local community. The CO2 will be transported by pipeline to nearby oil reservoirs and injected for permanent storage which will enhance U.S. energy security and enable additional production from existing California oilfields. HECA will also boost the local economy. Hydrogen Energy International estimates that the project will create up to 1,500 construction jobs and up to 100 permanent green collar jobs." 
"Central Florida community health centers received almost $6 million in federal grants this week to repair facilities, buy new equipment and implement electronic medical record-keeping. The grants come at an especially pressing time for these community centers, which have experienced increased use by area residents but decreased funding. At the Health Care Center for the Homeless — one of six Central Florida grant recipients — fundraising was down 40 percent from last year, while demand for services had increased by 28 percent. ‘Prior to receiving this, we were planning on reducing work staff,’ said Bakari Burns, executive officer. ‘The grant is almost like a godsend.’ On Monday, first lady Michelle Obama announced the disbursement of $851 million of the $2 billion promised to community health centers across the country as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."
"YouthBuild Louisville will receive $699,000 in federal economic-stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help provide vocational instruction to unemployed and undereducated Louisville youth, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-3rd District, has announced. ‘The funds will go a long way toward providing a valuable education and training to Louisville youths who may not have otherwise had opportunities in this economy,’ Yarmuth said. YouthBuild works with numerous other agencies on job training for those aged 16 to 24, including Jefferson Community and Technical College, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville Metro Government, the Metro Housing Authority, KentuckianaWorks and the Home Builders Association of Louisville. In the YouthBuild program participants learn the craft of constructing and rehabilitating affordable housing for low-income families in their own neighborhoods."
"Local schools will benefit from zero- or low-interest bonds for construction, established as part of the federal stimulus package.  Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools and Edgecombe County Public Schools both have been allotted funds from the 2009 Qualified School Construction Bonds program. The program offers funds for the specific use of new construction, school rehabilitation or repair and land acquisition in conjunction with those projects. The state was issued $275,772,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to disperse to schools.  Edgecombe Count schools were allocated $1,576,307.06. Nash-Rocky Mount schools were allocated $2,391,375.55.  In Nash-Rocky Mount schools, the money potentially could be used for two upcoming construction projects, Special Assistant for Auxiliary Services Mark Strickland said. He said that the people selling bonds will receive a tax credit in lieu of the interest money they’d typically receive. A zero-interest bond would be a ‘win-win’ for the district, Strickland said.  ‘It would just mean that we wouldn’t have to pay any interest, we’d just have to pay back the principal,’ Strickland said. ‘In the end, there could be significant cost savings.’"
"Governor Phil Bredesen is extending unemployment benefits with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Tennessee Extended Benefits Program adds a maximum of 20 weeks of benefits for claimants who exhausted their emergency unemployment compensation benefits on or after February 28, 2009. Unemployed Tennesseans who believe they may be eligible for state extended benefits can file online by accessing the department's Web site. The extended benefit application will be available online beginning July 15, 2009.  The extended benefit program ends on December 26, 2009."