USDA says it helped more than 7 million rural residents
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Thursday that USDA invested in nearly 400 projects to provide essential services for more than 7 million people in rural areas across the country in Fiscal Year 2017. Tennessee Rural Development State Director Jim Tracy of Shelbyville said he is pleased that Tennessee's 20 projects span 19 counties with an investment of over $109 million.
"Supporting essential services in Tennessee's rural communities is vital to the mission of USDA," Tracy said. "Investments we've made to improve the quality of life for our citizens include fire and police stations, schools, hospitals, and transitional housing for those addicted to opioids."
USDA infused $1.5 billion into rural areas in 2017 through the Community Facilities Direct Loan Program for projects such as schools, libraries, municipal centers, first responder vehicles and equipment, social service buildings, recreational activities and other community needs. These investments are helping improve the lives of nearly 7 million rural residents.
Tennessee projects are located in the following counties: Anderson, Bledsoe, Blount, Bradley, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hickman, Jefferson, Johnson, Monroe, Rhea, Robertson, Weakley and White.
Below are some examples of projects USDA helped finance in 2017:
• Ivy Academy Chattanooga, Inc. received a $2.9 million loan to build a new addition to their current facility. The proposed new addition will consist of two free standing high school buildings. One building will include a library, an art classroom, a science lab, a career tech classroom, a general classroom and administrative offices. The second building will include eight general classrooms. This new space will allow for expanded classes and new offices for administrative staff.
• In Cumberland County, Cumberland Good Samaritans received a $380,000 loan to construct a 5,000 square foot metal building for use as a warehouse building connected to an existing 4,000 square foot building. A portion of the existing facility is being converted to a walk-in cooler/freezer in a separate project and the additional storage space is needed for retail goods and food panty items that will be distributed to those in need.
• The City of Martin, located in Weakley County, received a loan of $1.3 million to purchase and renovate a former bank building and add a fire engine bay building for a third fire station in order to improve the fire protection and ISO rating for the citizens, businesses, and industry in the vicinity.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force's findings to President Trump, which included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/tn.