USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Visits State, Announces Funding to Support Rural Businesses and Create Jobs in Tennessee Communities

Kathy Smith
Release Date
Apr 15, 2015

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Lisa Mensah visited the state today to announce investments that will help rural businesses grow and create jobs and toured several projects that have previously received USDA support.

   “USDA partners with communities across the country to create greater economic opportunity for rural Americans,” said Mensah.  “I am happy to be joined by local leaders here in Tennessee to announce new investments and see firsthand the kind of successes that businesses and organizations that my agency has previously funded are having.”

   Several of the projects are being supported under USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative, which aims to increase investments in rural communities through intensive outreach and strong partnerships with community leaders, businesses, foundations and other groups that are working to combat persistent poverty.

   A $4.7 million USDA community facilities program loan will help Tusculum College complete their new Science and Mathematics building. USDA's Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas.  An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings.

   “The Tusculum College community is very pleased with our partnership with Rural Development and what this partnership means to our faculty and most importantly to our students. The Ronald H. and Verna June Meen Center for Science and Math will provide every student who attends the Greeneville campus an opportunity to study in a state-of-the-art facility that will only be excelled by the excellence of the faculty.  It will be particularly good for students in math, the sciences and health-related programs to participate in faculty research, attend classes, lectures and other functions. This is a project long overdue,” said Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College.

   Rural Resources Inc. today celebrated with a ground breaking for their new Farm and Food Business Center.  From 2011 to 2014, it received $185,000 from USDA Rural Development’s business and community facilities programs to support local foods production and marketing and training to farmers.

  “I am glad to see USDA award these funds in Greene County. It’s no secret that investing in education is good for the community and we are fortunate to have an institution like Tusculum College in the First District. I am also pleased Rural Resources will be able to build the Farm and Food Business Center with the help of USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant,” said Congressman Phil Roe.  “I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition and I thank the leaders in Greene County, at Tusculum, at Rural Resources, and at the USDA for their partnership in this effort.”

  Others participating in the event included Appalachian Regional Commission Chief of Staff Guy Land and Rural Resources Executive Director Sally Causey.

  USDA Rural Development is moving investments to rural America with housing, business and infrastructure loans and grants to create jobs and strengthen rural economies with an emphasis to assist areas of persistent poverty.  Since 2009, the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 230 communities in all 95 counties of Tennessee, investing more than $5.4 Billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.

   For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in Northeast Tennessee contact the Greeneville Area Office at 423.638.4771 x 4, or 800-342-3149 x 1492. Visit us online at