U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the Department is investing $86 million to improve equitable access (PDF, 238 KB) to jobs, business opportunities, education, housing and health care for people who live and work in rural areas. The investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensure that people living in rural communities have equitable access to the infrastructure and opportunities often taken for granted by people living in urban and suburban areas.
“Regardless of where they live, their race, ethnicity or gender, or the size of the town in which they live, all people must have access to decent housing, clean water and good job opportunities,” Vilsack said. “This is foundational to a healthy society and stable communities. Today’s announcements build on the historic investments made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden to ensure equity during a time when people living in underserved places are suffering the most. These investments will go a long way toward helping America ‘Build Back Better’ toward a just and more equitable society.”
Vilsack highlighted 218 investments that USDA is making in six programs specifically designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. These programs include Tribal College Initiative Grants, Rural Community Development Initiative Grants, Housing Preservation Grants, Delta Health Care Grants, Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants and Water and Waste Disposal Grants.
The funding will help more than 425,000 people in 46 states, Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps rural residents, businesses and communities address economic development, infrastructure and social service needs. It will help low-income people make health and safety repairs to their homes. It will help build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure for people living in U.S. communities along the Mexico border. It will help rural business owners in the Mississippi Delta get access to capital and business development assistance. It also will help colleges that serve Tribal populations upgrade campus buildings and services.
- The Keystone Development Corp. in Lancaster, Pa., is receiving a $173,288 Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant to provide business development technical assistance. It will support women who own agricultural cooperatives that grow flowers and various types of fibers. The project is expected to help 25 women farmers in three counties in Pennsylvania and five counties in New Jersey.
- Central Florida’s Habitat for Humanity/Lake-Sumter is receiving a $351,135 Housing Preservation Grant to help 42 low- and very-low-income people make health and safety repairs to their homes. These investments will support healthier and happier lives for all 42 homeowners.
- The Skagway Development Corp. in Alaska is receiving a $121,825 Rural Community Development Initiative grant to help small businesses develop five-year growth and operating plans. It will provide the services to businesses with 50 or fewer employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. This investment will help new entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed and create jobs in their communities.
- Minnesota’s Red Lake Nation College is receiving a $175,448 Tribal College Initiative Grant to purchase computers, a 15-passenger van and lawn maintenance equipment. The college will replace the 30 computers in the learning center and computer lab, and 32 assigned to faculty and staff.
The timing of the award to Red Lake Nation College coincides with Native American Heritage Month, which is celebrated every November to highlight the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, contributions and histories of Native people. It helps raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people face, and the ways in which Tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.
The 218 awards Secretary Vilsack announced today are being made in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. USDA Rural Development is prioritizing projects that will support key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help rural America build back better and stronger. Key priorities include combatting the COVID-19 pandemic; addressing the impacts of climate change; and advancing equity in rural America. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/priority-points. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.