USDA Helps 'Cultivate' a Flourishing Ag College with a Facilities Loan

Loan Makes 2013 Groundbreaking for Kettering Renovation/Addition A Reality

April 4, 2013

Looking over plans for the renovation and addition to Kettering Hall are, from the left, Anthony J. Logan, Rural Development State Director; Tammye Trevino, administrator for Housing and Community Facilities with USDA Rural Development; WC President Jim Reynolds; and Ashley Kelly, USDA Community Programs Specialist.

Looking over plans for the renovation and addition to Kettering Hall are, from the left, Anthony J. Logan, Rural Development State Director; Tammye Trevino, administrator for Housing and Community Facilities with USDA Rural Development; WC President Jim Reynolds; and Ashley Kelly, USDA Community Programs Specialist.

The USDA prepared this news release

Non Saltu sed Multis Gradibus. “Not by a leap but by many steps.” While this has long been the motto for Ohio’s historic Wilmington College, on Thursday, the institution took a leap toward a brighter future.

“We are pleased to play a role in continuing the impressive growth at Wilmington College,” said USDA Rural Housing and Community Facilities Administrator Tammye Treviño. “This loan means good things not just for Kettering Hall, but for this rural community as a whole as construction gets underway and additional jobs are generated.”

Treviño was on hand to help announce a $19.7 million USDA Community Facilities loan to stakeholders representing interests across both the public and private sectors. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

Founded in 1870 under the auspices of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Wilmington College strives to offer an academically sound education while also placing heavy emphasis on the values of community and responsibility. It is in this spirit of public/private partnership that USDA Rural Development extended a hand, financing the direct loan to the college board.

Kettering Hall has been a vital part of the Wilmington College landscape since its construction in 1960, but it remains largely unimproved. The three-story building lacks air conditioning, rendering it essentially unusable during southwest Ohio’s hot summers. While the structure has good “bones,” it is inadequate to meet the needs of the college’s burgeoning Agriculture and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, which are wholly housed in the facility.

Wilmington College President Jim Reynolds believes the funds will have a trans-formative effect on the college’s science and agriculture programs, noting that WC has had great success in preparing its science students for medical, veterinary and other STEM careers. Its agriculture program – one of only two in Ohio – is one of the college’s most popular majors.

“This renovated and expanded building with enhanced classrooms and laboratories will complement the outstanding faculty and students we have in these areas,” said Reynolds, who expressed appreciation to USDA and state and federal legislators for supporting the far-reaching project. “They not only see how such a major project will boost segments of the local economy, but also how a science center like this will benefit Ohioans through education in STEM content areas.”

Construction is anticipated to infuse an estimated $2.25 million into the local economy. Coupled with an expected continued increase in enrollments and new faculty hires needed as a result, this rural Ohio community stands to reap significant economic benefits from the Kettering Hall project.

The 34,100-square-foot building will undergo renovations including the addition of air conditioning, the removal of asbestos-laden floor tiles and pipe insulation, and the installation of LEED-certified efficiencies like a reflective roof, which ultimately will help lower maintenance and operation costs. A two-story, 15,000-square-foot addition is designed to blend in with the architectural design of the original building and neighboring Boyd Auditorium for the Performing Arts.

(RIGHT) President Jim Reynolds poses alongside the Kettering plans with some of the elected officials that served as advocates for WC receiving the USDA loan. From the left are: Cliff Rosenberger, Ohio House of Representatives; John Schlichter, ODA Deputy Director; Wilmington Mayor Randy Riley; Clinton County Commissioner Mike Curry; Rob Jaehnig, Wilmington City Councilman; County Commissioner Patrick Haley; and President Jim Reynolds.

At completion, the building will be 100 percent compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; ready to accommodate students in new biology, chemistry and agriculture labs. It will have a food production kitchen and meeting space designed to be shared with the Wilmington community at large.

With a population of nearly 42,000, Clinton County suffered a catastrophic economic blow when a nationally-known delivery firm shuttered domestic operations in 2009. Unemployment reached nearly 19 percent, the highest in the state, in 2010.

The scene is improving in no small measure (the unemployment rate stands at 9.7 percent today) due to economic progress represented by the college’s steady, “Not by a leap but by many steps” growth, particularly in its Agriculture and Science degree programs. The Ag program alone has seen a nearly 55 percent increase in year-over-year enrollment in the past four years.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.