United States Department of Agriculture Invests $1.4 Billion to Strengthen the Economy in Rural America


On Wednesday, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the department is investing $1.4 billion to help a diverse rural America keep resources and wealth right at home through job training, business expansion, and technical assistance.

The programs these investments are being made through are part of a suite of business and cooperative services that are projected to help create or save more than 50,000 jobs in rural America through investments made in fiscal year 2021, according to a press release by the USDA.

Eight programs will dole out 751 awards across 49 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Vilsack added that these programs will help create wealth in rural communities.

These programs include Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantees, and the B&I CARES Act Program.

Programs also include Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, Intermediary Relending Program and Value-Added Producer Grants, according to the press release.

Tennessee businesses are on track to receive more than $27 million in B&I loan guarantees.

“We are excited to partner with businesses and agriculture producers across the state to provide them with funding for capital that will also lead to the creation of jobs for rural residents,” Tennessee Rural Development State Director Arlisa Armstrong said in a statement. “Our agency is committed to being a strong partner in rural Tennessee to build stronger and healthier communities.”

In Tennessee, example uses for the funds include:

  • Three Roots Capital will use a $49,305 grant from the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to provide training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro-entrepreneurs in rural Eastern Tennessee.
  • Seven Springs Farm to Table LLC will use a $250,000 Value Added Producer Grant to provide working capital funds, a direct sales fresh vegetable, and a processed beef operation. They will process certified Angus cattle into retail cuts of meat to be served at their farm-to-table events. The new products and events will be marketed utilizing working capital funds.
  • DS Pigeon Forge LLC will use a $3 million Business & Industry loan guarantee to purchase an existing hotel in Pigeon Forge. This project is expected to create/save 20 jobs. The project will support the already growing tourism industry of the region.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]




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