RICHMOND, Va., Feb. 6, 2023 – The “State of the Commonwealth” is looking a lot better these days thanks to major USDA Rural Development (RD) investments to make Virginia’s small towns and cities safer and better connected with housing that is more affordable. These activities not only strengthen local economies but also contribute to a better and stronger America.
Read on to learn more about Virginia RD contributions in FY2022 to help support rural communities, minimize impacts of climate change, create good-paying jobs for state workers and provide more opportunities for our families.
Expanding Equity in Rural Communities. Multiple state projects awarded in FY2022 helped elevate low-income localities by upgrading infrastructure and increasing access to affordable housing and medical services. Highlights include:
- 57 loans/grants to communities in need with 14 awarded in persistent poverty counties and two Technical Assistance and Training grants that will support local efforts to identify and plan for future facility needs.
- Nine Emergency Rural Health Care grants valued at more than $6 million to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, health care services and food assistance through food banks and distribution facilities.
- Approximately $650 million in grants and guaranteed and direct loans to help more than 3,100 moderate, low- and very-low-income families buy decent, safe and sanitary housing.
- $52 million in funding for projects to develop/rehabilitate properties that will provide affordable multi-family rental housing for low-income, elderly and disabled individuals and families.
Improving Infrastructure and Community Services. Virginia RD obligated $988.3 million for six loans to expand and modernize rural electric grids and finance electric and telecommunications projects. The agency also invested $40.5 million in funding for essential facilities and services to include:
- 13 loans and grants to upgrade water and waste systems in nine Virginia localities
- Fire and police equipment purchases in 23 communities with many awards to persistent poverty counties. Learn more about Community Facilities Programs.
- A $16 million dormitory renovation at Ferrum College
Implementing Climate-Smart Solutions. Virginia RD invested more than $10.8 million in environmentally friendly practices/systems that will not only help agricultural producers and rural businesses operate more sustainably but also improve profitability to build wealth for generations to come. Examples include:
- 14 projects funded through the Rural Energy for America Program to install solar arrays that will lower operating costs for small businesses and support production of renewable energy.
- More than $142,000 in grant funding awarded to help biofuel producers recover from unexpected COVID-related market losses.
Increasing Access to Opportunities in Rural Virginia. RD made major investments to stimulate business growth and creation and connect rural communities through increased access to reliable high-speed internet and increased broadband speeds. Highlights include:
- $35 million in capital to help expand market opportunities for agricultural producers and businesses. Target areas included grants for developing and promoting value-added products and loan guarantees for eligible rural businesses.
- $5 million in Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Guarantees to install more than 100 miles of fiber optic plant to enhance services for 1,833 Pembroke Telephone Cooperative subscribers in Giles County.
“Last year, the Virginia team led the nation in funding state economic development initiatives, increasing homeownership opportunities and financing infrastructure improvements,” said Perry Hickman, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director. “This $1.8 billion investment helped drive innovation in the marketplace and add income streams for businesses and agricultural operations. Our team stands ready to deliver a full suite of programs in 2023.”
Virginia RD also invites rural communities, entrepreneurs, government officials and other stakeholders to track our progress through the new Rural Data Gateway tool unveiled this month to provide greater transparency in the use and targeting of agency resources to the people and communities who need them most. The Gateway highlights how RD has supported local and regional economies through 69 programs over the last 11 years.
These user-friendly investment dashboards highlight critical investments in projects that have helped socially vulnerable communities access the resources they need to lower energy costs; expand or improve access to health care, high-speed internet and safe drinking water; and buy, repair, build and rent affordable homes. Visitors can also use these dashboards to analyze trends across different states, counties and congressional districts.
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.
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. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery subscriber page.