Puerto Rico was awarded $1,258,900 funding to help people living in historically underserved communities.
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is providing $262 million to improve access to jobs, health care and infrastructure for people in historically underserved communities across the Rural Partners Network (RPN).
“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are committed to ensuring that people in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed and that they can find those opportunities right at home in rural America,” Under Secretary Torres Small said. “From renewable energy and new jobs to clean water and quality health care, the Rural Partners Network is connecting rural people to resources that will help them create new and lasting prosperity on their own terms.”
The Biden-Harris Administration established RPN to transform the way federal agencies partner with and serve rural people and places, including Native American communities. Led by USDA with support from more than 20 federal agencies and commissions, RPN is central to President Biden’s commitment to ensure all rural people can benefit from federal resources. This includes historic funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Torres Small announced the $262 million in funding while visiting with people and organizations in North Carolina participating in RPN. While there, she unveiled an annual report documenting RPN’s accomplishments in its first year and how the network is helping to shape investment strategies for rural communities.
The funding announced today will support 68 projects in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico.
The funding will create jobs for rural people and help them expand their businesses. It will provide affordable, well-built homes for seniors and low-income families in rural areas. It will help farmers and ranchers transition to clean energy and find new and better markets for their products. And it will give people in remote areas access to modern water and wastewater systems, and quality education and health care services.
Maximiliano J. Trujillo, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico indicated that these are the projects that received funds on the island:
- Mercy Corps, in Puerto Rico will use the $200,000 Rural Business Development Grant investment to provide technical assistance through technical workshops followed by mentorship opportunities to promote rural business in the municipality of Maricao.
- Cooperativa Hidroélectrica de la Montaña will use this Socially-Disadvantage Groups Grant investment to help with a technical assistance project that relies on highly qualified experts in electric cooperative operation and training and on English to Spanish translators, to produce technical operation manuals and training programs for staff and directors of the cooperative.
- Kefruits LLC will use this $250,000 Value Added Producer Grant to provide working capital for activities such as labor, gasoline, promotions, utilities and packing materials.
- E & D Herbs Medicine Products LLC will use this $150,000 this Value-Added Producer Grant to assist with working capital activities, such as labor, promotion, utilities, packing and raw material. These costs are directly related to the processing and distribution of locally produced food supplement capsules.
- Amasar LLC will use this $250,000 Value Added Producer Grant to assist with working capital activities. These costs are directly related to the processing and distribution of locally produced packaged breadfruit flour-based products.
- Impacto Comunitario Inc. will use $32,000 of the Water and Waste Disposal Grants-Disaster Grant to purchase a generator. After the passing of Hurricane Maria, the community was 10 months without electricity.
- Acueducto Rural Tabor Inc. will use this $57,000 of the Water and Waste Disposal Grants-Disaster Grant to purchase a generator. After the passing of Hurricane Maria, the community was 10 months without electricity.
- Acueducto Rural Santos Pellejas Inc. will use this $28,000 of the Water and Waste Disposal Grants-Disaster Grant to purchase a generator. This aqueduct system needs a reliable power generator with an automatic transfer switch.
- Municipality of Villalba will use this $123,700 of the Community Facilities Emergency Rural Health Care grant to acquire equipment to respond to medical emergency, including an ambulance. This project will help procure an ambulance to serve the rural population.
Background: Rural Partners Network
Launched in April 2022 and expanded in November 2022, the Rural Partners Network is now active in 36 community networks in 10 states.
USDA Secretary Vilsack announced the program to the Mayors and Community Leaders of the Mountain Region during his visit to the municipality of Coamo with Maximiliano J. Trujillo, USDA Rural Development State Director of Puerto Rico during his visit on January 9, 2023.
Community networks receive on-the-ground support from full-time federal 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 prepare successful applications for funding.
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. The Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council, co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and USDA, advises the RPN program and shares lessons learned through RPN for policy consideration. A team of Rural Desk Officers representing each participating federal agency or regional commission supports the RPN program and community networks.
For more information on RPN, visit Rural.gov.
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/pr.
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