USDA to invest $185 million to rebuild rural areas in 32 states

On June 23, U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson, announced USDA would be investing $185 million to revitalize and improve rural communities in 32 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

USDA estimates the investment will benefit 3 million rural residents in those states.

The $185 million will be used in 233 projects within the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. Seventy-four of those projects, totaling $4 million, will benefit long-term recovery following natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. According to the USDA, more than 100 types of projects are eligible for community facilities funding, but projects must be in rural areas with a population of less than 20,000 people. Applicants can include municipalities, public bodies, non-profit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes.

“The Biden-Harris administration has made investing in infrastructure improvements a priority,” Maxson stated in a USDA press release. “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital to all communities, such as schools, libraries, hospitals and health clinics. They also will help rural communities continue to beat the COVID-19 pandemic as America builds back better and stronger.”

The funds are expected to support infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, schools, public safety, health care and high-speed internet infrastructure. For instance, in Oklahoma it is being reported that there will be a total of $1,997,067 allotted to 21 projects in the state. Some examples of projects the money will go toward include a $215,300 grant allocated to the Atoka County Emergency Medical Services to purchase two ambulances to replace old emergency vehicles. Another example is a $29,300 grant Bokoshe Public School received to replace outdated kitchen appliances in the school cafeteria.

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Lacey Newlin can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].