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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Next Slate of Economic Development Investments in Rural Partners Network Communities

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2024 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is funding dozens of new infrastructure upgrades and clean energy projects ↗ in rural and Tribal communities participating in the Rural Partners Network ↗ (RPN). Most of today’s clean energy projects are made possible by President Biden’s historic Inflation Reduction Act, the largest investment in renewable energy since the New Deal. Many of these projects would not have been possible without the collaboration between community networks and on-the-ground, federal government staff through RPN.

This announcement marks two years since the Biden-Harris Administration launched RPN to ensure people in historically underserved communities receive their fair share of funding from federal agencies. Since its launch, USDA has provided more than $1 billion to support approximately 4,700 economic development projects in RPN communities.

“In just two years, the Rural Partners Network has shown that incredible progress is possible when people inside and outside government from all walks of life work together to solve problems and better serve rural people,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Torres Small. “These latest investments underscore the impact of unprecedented resources the Biden-Harris Administration has made available so rural and Tribal people can pursue great opportunities no matter where they live.”

USDA is awarding approximately $144 million in loans and grants to support 56 projects that will help RPN communities address immediate needs and carry out long-term strategies for economic growth and stability. Several of the projects will create jobs and expand business opportunities. Communities will use funding to modernize water and wastewater infrastructure, install clean energy technologies, rehab affordable homes and more.

For example:

  • Georgia Cold Storage Inc. will use a $322,550 Rural Energy for America Program ↗ grant to buy and install a 330-kilowatt solar array at a poultry farm. The company operates a warehouse to cool and store peanuts and other foods in Blakely, Georgia ↗. It expects to save about $41,000 and replace 490,420 kilowatt hours each year through solar power.
  • In Forest County, Wisconsin ↗, Laona Rescue Unit Inc. will use a $2 million Community Facilities ↗ grant to design and build a new emergency services station. The building will house six ambulances and enable first responders to provide improved service to six townships and the Forest County Potawatomi Reservation.
  • In Puerto Rico ↗, Acueducto Rural Palmarito Cintron Inc. will use a $226,000 Water and Waste Disposal Grant ↗ to acquire a 30,000-volt amp electrical generator. Hurricane Maria demolished the island’s power grid, and it took more than a year to restore electric power and water service in some areas. These funds will ensure clean drinking water for people in the event of future power outages.

The funding being announced today will support RPN communities in Alaska, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico. One project also will benefit communities in South Carolina.

Background: Rural Partners Network

Launched in April 2022 and expanded in November 2022, RPN is now active in 36 community networks ↗ in 10 states and Puerto Rico.

Community networks receive support from full-time USDA staff who live and work locally. These staff members provide technical assistance based on each community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships and apply for funding. In addition to USDA staff, there are staff at 24 other federal agencies supporting RPN and making resources across the government easier to access for people in rural communities.

RPN communities also benefit from coordination through other federal efforts such as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization ↗ and President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative ↗ and Investing in America ↗ agenda. The Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council, co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and USDA, advises the RPN program and ensures rural voices are heard and reflected in national policies that will benefit all people in rural communities.

For more information on RPN, visit Rural.gov ↗.

USDA 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. Visit the Rural Data Gateway ↗ to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America. To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the 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 ↗.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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