USDA State Director for Rural Development John Rounsaville today highlighted major accomplishments and investments that are building prosperity and strengthening the nation’s rural businesses and communities, particularly in Mississippi.
“In 2019, Rural Development collaborated with many partners and invested $28.6 billion to spark business development, strengthen infrastructure, improve healthcare and education, and create jobs in all 50 states and all U.S. territories. Throughout Mississippi, USDA Rural Development invested $806 million to enhance economic and community development during 2019,” Rounsaville said.
Investments made in Mississippi include $328 million in rural infrastructure and electric utilities, $442 million in community facilities and housing programs, and $37 million in rural business programs. “We look forward to an even more productive year in 2020. Specifically, I hope we see greater utilization of our broadband programs to expand high-speed internet throughout the state,” added Rounsaville.
Below is a summary of USDA’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 accomplishments in specific areas:
- Committed $600 million in 2019 to support rural broadband expansion through the ReConnect Pilot Program. The ReConnect Program offers unique federal loans, grants and grant/loan combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas that do not have sufficient access to broadband. This program generates private-sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to as many rural places as possible, including homes, community facilities, health care institutions, public safety departments, schools, libraries, farms, ranches and businesses.
- Made available a total of $550 million in grants, low-interest loans, and 50/50 grant/loan combinations. The application window for this round of funding will open Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will close no later than March 16, 2020.
- Invested $5.8 billion to upgrade or build electric and Smart Grid infrastructure that will benefit 7.7 million consumers by improving electric service reliability across 32 states.
- Invested $1.8 billion to expand access to safe drinking water or improve wastewater management systems. These investments will benefit more than 2.3 million rural Americans.
- Invested $21 million in essential projects such as bridges, roads and transportation improvements.
Quality of Life
- Invested $788 million in loans and grants that funded 783 essential community facilities such as rural hospitals, educational institutions and public safety facilities. These investments will benefit more than 11 million rural residents.
- Invested $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects. These investments will benefit 5.4 million rural residents. They will make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances. More than one-third of these distance learning projects, 51, totaling $14.7 million in grants, will provide access to opioid prevention, treatment and recovery services for 2 million rural residents.
- Provided more than 99,000 homeownership loan guarantees to low- and moderate-income families in rural areas in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
- Invested $1.3 billion in Business and Industry (B&I) Program loan guarantees that assisted 378 rural businesses. These investments created or saved nearly 11,000 jobs.
- Invested $249 million in 1,381 in energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy development assistance projects in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
- Supported and advanced the joint Memorandum of Understanding with the Small Business Administration to promote purposeful, strategic and focused economic development and leveraged this partnership to support innovation and entrepreneurship through the regional innovation cluster model.
- Developed a joint Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Energy to promote rural energy and the development of technologies that will support energy-related infrastructure in rural and agricultural communities.
- Partnered with 48 rural communities and regions that will receive planning assistance from capacity building organizations in the Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) initiative.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs 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 areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.