The state of Alaska features 16 of the 52 projects receiving U.S. Department of Agriculture’s USA Rural Development Funds money. Andy Berke, the USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator, is currently visiting Alaska and had this to say about his appearance in Alaska:
“I’m proud to be on the ground in Alaska – hearing the stories and seeing first-hand both the differences USDA has made in people’s lives and the infrastructure gaps that still exist in rural communities,” USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Andy Berke said. “Rural America should never be an afterthought. That’s why the Biden-Harris administration is investing historic levels of funding in rural America, and the Rural Partners Network is working here every day to ensure the vision that Alaskan communities want is fulfilled.”
Here’s the complete release from the USDA:
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is helping rural communities across eight states and Puerto Rico address some of their immediate needs and foster long-term economic growth.
“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda provides a historic opportunity to transform our economy from one that benefits a few to one that benefits many,” Vilsack said. “Through Rural Partners Network, USDA staff is on the ground listening to those many different voices in rural America and responding with funding and resources that will help people in small towns, rural places and on Tribal lands build stronger communities and brighter futures.”
USDA is providing loans and grants to help people living in rural and Tribal communities in the Rural Partners Network (RPN) access good-paying jobs, improved infrastructure, affordable housing and quality health care.
In all, the funding will support 52 projects in Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. Some projects also will benefit people outside RPN communities in Alabama, Florida and Texas.
In the West, the funding will help Tribal communities improve water and wastewater services and bring solar power and other forms of renewable energy to Tribal lands and farms. For people living in Southern communities, projects will increase access to fresh foods in high-poverty areas and allow electric cooperatives to connect thousands of people to power with smart-grid technologies. Residents in parts of Appalachia will benefit from new investments in clean water, expanded health care services and safe, affordable housing.
RPN is an all-of-government program more than 800 federal, state and local partners that collaborate to address specific needs in communities that have long struggled to access government programs and funding.
Today’s announcement includes $394 million in awards from USDA that will benefit RPN communities and support their long-term visions for strong, local economies.
A complete list of projects is available online.
Background: Rural Partners Network
Launched in April 2022 and expanded in November 2022, the Rural Partners Network is now active in 36 community networks in 10 states and Puerto Rico.
Community networks receive support from full-time USDA staff who live and work locally. These staff members provide technical assistance based on each community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships and prepare successful applications for funding. In addition to USDA staff, there are staff at about 20 other federal agencies dedicated to RPN and making resources across the government easier to access for people in rural communities.
RPN communities also benefit from coordination through other federal efforts such as the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization and President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council, co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and USDA, advises the RPN program and shares lessons learned through RPN for policy consideration.
For more information on RPN, visit Rural.gov.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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