USDA Invests $86 Million to Improve Equitable Access to Jobs, Business Opportunities, Education, Health Care and Housing for Rural People

Columbia, S.C., Nov. 18, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the Department is investing $86 million to improve equitable access to jobs, business opportunities, education, housing and health care for people who live and work in rural areas. The investments are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensure that people living in rural communities have equitable access to the infrastructure and opportunities often taken for granted by people living in urban and suburban areas.

“Regardless of where they live, their race, ethnicity or gender, or the size of the town in which they live, all people must have access to decent housing, clean water and good job opportunities,” Vilsack said. “This is foundational to a healthy society and stable communities. Today’s announcements build on the historic investments made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden to ensure equity during a time when people living in underserved places are suffering the most. These investments will go a long way toward helping America ‘Build Back Better’ toward a just and more equitable society.”

Background:

Vilsack highlighted 218 investments that USDA is making in six programs specifically designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. These programs include Tribal College Initiative Grants, Rural Community Development Initiative Grants, Housing Preservation Grants, Delta Health Care Grants, Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grants and Water and Waste Disposal Grants.

The funding will help more than 425,000 people in 46 states, Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps rural residents, businesses and communities address economic development, infrastructure and social service needs. It will help low-income people make health and safety repairs to their homes.

“South Carolina received nearly $940,000 in investments, which will help create opportunities for the improvement of rural communities, and in some cases transforming those communities”, said Dr. Saundra Glover, state director for South Carolina Rural Development. “Many South Carolina rural communities will now have equitable access to economic development opportunities, health care and affordable housing.”

For example, in South Carolina:
•The Gullah Farmers Cooperative Association is receiving a $152,559 Socially Disadvantaged Grant to provide technical assistance to Gullah Cooperative members and minority farmers residing in Beaufort, Charleston, Colleton, Jasper, Hampton and Orangeburg counties. It is estimated that at least 12 Gullah Farmer Cooperative members and 85 socially disadvantaged farmers will receive assistance as a result of this funding.
•United Farmers USA, in Clarendon county, is receiving a $50,311 Socially Disadvantaged Grant to provide technical assistance to cooperative members and minority farmers residing in the persistent poverty counties. It is estimated that about sixty minority farmers will participate in the workshops offered by the United Farmers USA Cooperative and qualified consultants.
•Horry County Government Community Development is receiving a $163,417 Housing Preservation Grant, which will assist with repairs of 17 rural homes within qualifying income categories. The grant will enable these homes to receive critical rehabilitation, repairs, and accessibility modification.
•The Town of Cheraw, located in Chesterfield county, is receiving a $163,417 Housing Preservation Grant, which will assist with repairs of approximately 15 rural homes within qualifying income categories. The grant will enable these homes to receive critical rehabilitation, repairs, and accessibility modification.
•The South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, located in Charleston county, is receiving a $244,575 Rural Community Development Initiative Grant, which will be used to provide technical assistance and training programs that are designed to target disadvantaged communities by addressing broadband access. South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development will empower disadvantaged communities with broadband trainers to teach local community leaders how to attract providers and resources for broadband that will lead to residents and businesses having broadband access.
•The Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc., is receiving a $164,999 Rural Community Development Initiative Grant, which will be used to provide technical assistance to individual water and wastewater communities and utility companies to prepare asset management plans, fiscal sustainability and mapping assets to seven recipients: Town of Olanta, Town of Prosperity, Town of Lynchburg, Town of Norway, Town of Ridge Spring, Town of Eastover, Town of Lockhart, all located in South Carolina.

The 218 awards Secretary Vilsack announced today are being made in Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific.

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. USDA Rural Development is prioritizing projects that will support key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help rural America build back better and stronger. Key priorities include combatting the COVID-19 pandemic; addressing the impacts of climate change; and advancing equity in rural America. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/priority-points. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under 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/sc.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.


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