Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $17.4 million in 41 projects that will provide essential services for rural communities in 22 states. Tennessee Rural Development State Director Jim Tracy also announced that one of those projects is in Anderson County.
“USDA’s commitment to improving the quality of life in rural Tennessee is strong,” Tracy said. “We continually look for innovative ways to come alongside our rural communities to increase economic health and rural prosperity.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program. The funding helps rural areas purchase, construct or improve essential facilities. An essential community facility is one that provides a necessary service for the orderly development or operation of a rural community, such as schools, libraries, health care facilities, day care centers and infrastructure improvements. For example:
- Anderson County Volunteer Fire Department – Briceville Unit will use the $18,000 loan and $22,000 grant to purchase updated turnout gear, air packs, and other small safety equipment for firefighters. The department replaced half of its turnout gear last year, and this investment will replace the remaining outdated gear. The older gear is 12 years old, which exceeds its useful life. The department serves 900 households in addition to grocery stores, post offices, schools, several churches and mines.
The projects that are being announced today will help improve the quality of life for more than 220,000 rural residents in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
More than 100 types of projects are eligible for USDA Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. Applicants and projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. Loan amounts have ranged from $10,000 to $165 million.
The Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill increased the budget for the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program to $2.8 billion, up $200 million from FY 2017.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
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 services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information on programs in Tennessee, visit www.rd.usda.gov/tn.