U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the programs will help create wealth in rural communities. (Getty Images)
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that the agency is investing $1.4 billion into rural economies through job training, business loans, and the expansion of technical assistance.
Vilsack said the programs will help create wealth in rural communities.
“The rural economy, which plays an important role in our national economy, has historically lagged behind the urban and suburban counterparts,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for us to focus on building back that rural economy better.”
Eight programs are doling out 751 awards across 49 states. Those eight programs are the Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantees, the B&I CARES Act Program, the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants, the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, the Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, the Intermediary Relending Program, and the Value-Added Producer Grants.
The Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantees backed $1.15 billion in loans given by third-party lenders. A loan guarantee is meant to encourage lenders to invest in rural areas they might otherwise view as high risk. Waterville Valley Resort, LLC in New Hampshire received a $5 million loan guarantee through this program.
New Hampshire also received several Value-Added Producer Grants, a program that awarded around $66 million nationally. Four New Hampshire farms received grants through the program to help them develop value-added products. Pumpkin Blossom Farm in Warner received a $250,000 award they’re planning to use to develop lavender-infused food and beverages. Short Creek Farm in Northwood got $228,210 in grant money. West Wick Farming in Lee got $11,020, and Brookford Farm in Canterbury received $75,000.
The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program gave $3.5 million in grants and $2.6 million in loans. The Coos Economic Development Corporation received $30,576 in grants through the program.
Some of the grants and loans will assist with needs ranging from housing to expansion of small businesses and family farms to providing capital for new small-business owners.
Vilsack added that the agency is also hoping to partner with other entities “to ensure that the workforce needed is being trained and is being prepared to take on that opportunity and responsibility.”
(Amanda Gokee of the Bulletin contributed to this report.)
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