U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Oklahoma State Director Kenneth Corn announced today that USDA is investing more than $378,000 to expand access to housing, equip schools with necessary transportation, and fund city infrastructure. In total, USDA is investing more than $102 million across 263 projects across the United States which will create economic opportunities and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in rural America.
The investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensure that people living in rural America have equitable access to the infrastructure and economic opportunities they deserve.
“For far too long there has been a lack of investment in our rural communities across Oklahoma,” Corn said. “These communities make up the backbone of our American agricultural economy and thanks to the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack we are seeing a renewed commitment to my neighbors across Oklahoma, who have been previously left behind, by providing critical funding for our local schools, access to affordable and safe housing and essential city infrastructure needs. Our Administration understands that the best path to a strong economy is by reinvesting in our rural and tribal communities regardless of what our fellow Oklahomans background or financial status may be.”
The funding will benefit hundreds of thousands of people in 47 states and American Samoa. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development addresses economic development, infrastructure and social service needs for rural residents and communities.
For example, the projects in Oklahoma will fund:
- Tushka Public Schools is receiving a $75,000 to purchase one 71 passenger school bus. This air-conditioned bus will provide more storage and comply with the new COVID-19 regulations allowing for a safe distance between passengers while traveling to and from school and school activities. This project will greatly increase the safety and mobility of the school's transportation.
- Tuskahoma Public Schools is receiving a $75,000 to purchase one 30 passenger bus, one SUV, 65 laptops and new networking equipment. This district currently has only one working school bus to complete all bus routes and does not have any vehicles for the staff. These vehicles will allow the district to increase their bus routes and also make meal deliveries in the event of another pandemic situation that moves the school to distance learning. The laptops will be used by students during the distance learning days.
- Tahlequah Habitat for Humanity is receiving $100,000 to assist 10 very-low income homeowners, which will entail a variety of home repairs and improvement projects for owner-occupied homes in Cherokee County.
- The City of Heavener is receiving $128,900 to renovate the old city hall and masonic lodge. The building was acting as a community center but is currently unusable due to needing extensive repairs. Once repaired, the three-story building will be used to teach drama, music, dance, and fine arts. There will be mental therapy services offered for children with various mental health issues. The renovation will also bring the building up to current Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the leadership of 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 https://www.rd.usda.gov/ok.