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USDA Rural Development Community Programs Director Bill Slininger signs a really big check during a program at the YMCA for a Rural Development guaranteed loan through First State Bank Southwest. The $3 million will go toward the new YMCA building and City of Worthington Aquatic Center. (Justine Wettschreck/Daily Globe)

YMCA receives loan guarantee

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WORTHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has guaranteed a $3 million loan through First State Bank Southwest for the new YMCA and City of Worthington Aquatics Center, which is scheduled for a groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. Nov. 2. The money will go to the YMCA through the city.

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The new building, which will be on the Minnesota West Community and Technical College campus, will cost approximately $9.5 million and should be finished in 2009.

During a program Friday at the Y, one word was brought up numerous times by various speakers -- collaborate.

Board of directors president Gordon Moore expressed his thanks to the USDA, adding that the loan's procurement is a testament to a lot of people who worked together. The new Y, he explained, is the kind of project that adds a stable and positive amenity to the city of Worthington and the surrounding areas.

"The loan contract and commitment is an investment in our area and region," he stated.

First State Bank Executive Vice President Greg Raymo said collaboration is what it takes to make things happen. He spoke of the monumental task of finding funding for a nonprofit group who was working with a municipality for a project on state ground. In other words, no collateral.

"Are you kidding me?" Raymo stated, amidst laughter.

But the collaboration between the entities made the funding possible, with the addition of Rural Development. It wasn't easy, but the efforts of several people paid off, Raymo said.

"Collaboration is truly what it takes to build a project like this," stated Matt Wohlman of Rep. Tim Walz's office. "Minnesota has the unique ability to collaborate and be partners in order to get things done."

Gerald Woodley, of Sen. Norm Coleman's office read a congratulatory letter from the senator, praising the city of Worthington and those involved for their efforts.

"Worthington and the (YMCA) board did more than just talk," Woodley read. "They found a way to construct."

The final speaker, USDA's Rural Development Community Programs Director Bill Slininger, stated projects such as the new Y do not happen without the support of the community.

"There is a lot of care here, and a lot of dollars people dug from their pockets," he added.

The guaranteed loan almost didn't happen because of timing, Slininger said. Because Rural Development was getting ready to close out its books at the end of the fiscal year in September, the process was almost delayed. As he was getting ready to hit the send button on an email stating they had everything prepared and were ready to go, the Washington office was hitting the send button on an e-mail that said it was too late and funding would have to wait if things weren't ready to go that day.

Slininger thanked the politicians in the room for their funding, which comes from the farm bill.

"Rural Development has a key role to play in making a strong rural America," he stated, then smiled. "You get us the money, and we'll find a way to use it."

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