WILSON, N.C., Feb. 15, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced, in Wilson, that USDA is providing $28 million to improve access to jobs, health care and infrastructure for people in historically underserved communities in North Carolina across the Rural Partners Network (RPN).
“Rural people deserve every opportunity to succeed – and President Biden and USDA are committed to ensuring people can find those opportunities close to home,” Under Secretary Torres Small said. “The Rural Partners Network and leaders like Congressman Davis are helping us connect rural people to resources that will help them access new jobs, clean water, renewable energy, and quality health care that stays in their communities for future generations.”
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, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Torres Small announced the $28 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 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.
- In Bladen County, the town of East Arcadia will use a $370 thousand Rural Business Development Grant to renovate the town hall and fire department in order to create a small business center for their farmer’s market. The renovations to the town hall will consist of three new rental spaces for small business owners. The renovation to the fire department will allow for an indoor/outdoor farmer’s market. The facility will also be ideal for community events.
- In Halifax County, Our Community Hospital Inc. will use a $117 thousand Community Facilities Grant to renovate the 80-bed skilled nursing facility. Renovations will include replacing ceiling tiles and installing efficient fluorescent lighting throughout the facility.
- In Johnston County, Holly Tree Grove NC LLC, will use a $2 million Multi-Family Housing Loan to assist in the construction of a senior multifamily housing complex in Benson. This project has a total of 20 one-bedroom and 28 two-bedroom units.
- In Nash County, the town of Middlesex will use a $200 thousand Community Facilities Grant to purchase a law enforcement vehicle, public works truck, backhoe, and a new gas generator.
- In Robeson County, Lacy Cummings, will use a Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant to purchase and install a 495.5 kilowatt solar array. The system is estimated to produce 777,359 kilowatt-hours per year, which is enough electricity to power 71 homes.
- In Wilson County, Carolina Poultry Power Rg2 LLC will use a $25 million Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loan to buy and install a facility to help convert poultry litter waste into energy. The system is estimated to produce more than 184,000,000 kilowatt-hours per year, which is enough electricity to power more than 16,000 homes.
“This investment into rural North Carolina will improve access to jobs, health care and infrastructure across the state,” said Rural Development State Director Reginald Speight. “Through the Rural Partners Network this investment is helping facilitate renewable energy, assisting the elderly have comfortable and dignified living accommodations and assisting local farmers sell their crops to their home 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.
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 and Puerto Rico.
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.
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