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Biden-Harris Administration Invests More Than $10 Million in Rural Cooperatives to Increase Economic Opportunity and Advance Equity in Rural Tennessee

Release Date

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Nov. 9, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Tennessee State Director Arlisa Armstrong today announced that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is investing more than $1.2 billion in loans and grants to spur economic development, catalyze rural prosperity and advance equity through rural cooperatives. Last month, USDA celebrated its 59th annual National Cooperative Month and the vital role cooperatives play in helping people build bright futures in rural America.

State Director Armstrong is pleased to announce that more than $10 million in investments will be used in our rural Tennessee communities.

“During the month of October, USDA Rural Development celebrated Cooperative Month to highlight opportunities to help people in rural communities sustain, start, and expand cooperatives,” Armstrong said. “I am excited for our partnership with Southeast Center of Cooperative Development, City of Johnson City, and Pinecrest Smoky Mountain Holdings LLC. The investments we are announcing today play a vital role in improving economic opportunity and advancing equity in rural Tennessee.”

For example:

  • Southeast Center for Cooperative Development is receiving a $174,994 Socially-Disadvantaged Group Grant to provide funds for training and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas. The Southeast Center for Cooperative Development will administer the project with a focus on the formation of co-op business models in west Tennessee.
  • City of Johnson City is receiving a $2 million Rural Economic Development Loan to fund the Johnson City Energy Authority to deliver loan assistance to the Appalachian Producers Cooperative to construct a 15,000 square foot meat processing facility. Appalachian Producers Cooperative, a farmer-owned cooperative, will provide USDA inspected and certified meat processing services to the surrounding region.
  • Pinecrest Smoky Mountain Holdings LLC is receiving a $7.85 million Business & Industry Loan Guarantee to provide funds for the renovation of 35 long term residential units to short term vacation units in Sevierville, Tennessee. Pinecrest Smoky Mountain Holdings LLC, a short-term vacation rental owner and operator, will create 16 jobs and will benefit the local community by providing additional accommodations for the increasing growth of tourism.

USDA is making the investments through a suite of business, utilities and cooperative programs and services such as the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program and Value-Added Producer Grant Program.

A full list of projects from today’s announcement is available online.

Background: Rural Cooperatives

Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the people who use them. Cooperatives differ from other businesses because they are member owned and operate for the benefit of members, rather than to earn profits for investors.

Cooperatives are a trusted, democratic, time-tested business model that builds local wealth for members and communities. Organized to meet the economic needs of its member-owners, a cooperative is a particularly resilient business. It embodies the concept of self-help: members use the cooperative, own it, and control it.

More than 30,000 cooperatives – including agricultural, utility, financial services, purchasing, food and grocery, housing, and retail co-ops - operate at 73,000 places of business throughout the U.S., and account for more than two million jobs, boast about 350 million memberships, and generate more than $700 billion in annual revenue. 

USDA Rural Development offers a variety of financial assistance and services to assist rural businesses, including cooperatives and agricultural producers. For more information on cooperatives, visit USDA Rural Development Cooperative Services.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In 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.

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.

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