RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 10, 2024 – We may have rung in a new year, but there is still time for one more toast to USDA Rural Development’s outstanding teamwork and partner collaborations to improve the quality of life in small towns and cities across the commonwealth in 2023.
“Virginia placed fourth in the nation for total obligations with accomplishments in every major program area that either broke new ground or addressed critical needs in distressed communities,” said Perry Hickman, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director. “From fiber-to-the-premises broadband network expansion to infrastructure upgrades and meat and poultry supply chain improvements, Virginia led the way in transforming rural America for the better.”
The $1.04 billion awarded through more than 2,000 loans and grants is only part of the story. The highlights provided below illustrate some of the long-range impacts of our work. View our fiscal year 2023 annual report to get more details.
- Cleared More Community Projects for Takeoff. Virginia reached new heights in infrastructure improvements by funding airport expansion projects in Shenandoah, Page, and Winchester. The agency also financed upgrades to a Bridgewater College dorm and academic building and renovation of the Amelia clerk of court offices as well as directing one third of the total $30.6 million in obligations to improve access to medical care in Bath, Smyth and Wise counties.
- Charted a Path for Rural Electrification. We invested $450 million through a new partnership with the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC) to support rural electric and telecommunication projects nationwide. Loans made through the member-owned nonprofit will help members acquire, construct, and operate electric facilities and offer financing for rural telecommunications members and their affiliates.
- Enhanced Rural Business Profitability and Sustainability. The Virginia team obligated $3.7 million statewide for Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPGs), $4.2 million for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Technical Assistance Grants, and $3.7 million for REAP projects to make farms and aquaculture enterprises more efficient, productive and profitable.
- Put Out the Welcome Mat for Homeowners. Our team helped more than 300 Virginians become homeowners in fiscal year 2023 and ranked first in the nation for direct very-low-income loans. The approximately $340 million in loans and grants were obligated with help from packagers who helped streamline the purchase and repair process for many applicants.
- Connected Communities Through Broadband. We awarded a $25 million ReConnect Grant to help Scott County Telephone Cooperative deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will deliver high-speed internet to more than 17,000 people in socially vulnerable Southwest Virginia communities. Virginia RD also invested $2.4 million in four Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant projects to help educational institutions deliver instruction via videoconferencing.
- Improved Local Water and Wastewater Treatment. Our specialists partnered with small towns across the commonwealth to fund system upgrades that will address health and environmental hazards associated with aging infrastructure. The $59.2 million in Water and Environmental Program loans and grants includes a $14 million project to rehabilitate the Kilmarnock wastewater plant.
“I am proud of the mighty impact our small team has made throughout the state and look forward to another great year as we bring on new talent to serve citizens and stakeholders in rural areas across the commonwealth,” said Hickman. “Virginia RD stands ready to deliver funding that can support economic development and infrastructure improvements to benefit rural families, businesses and agricultural producers.”
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.