(NAFB)--More than 100 projects in 30 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive 6.5-million dollars in USDA funding to support small and emerging rural businesses. Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Lillian Salerno made the announcement on behalf of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Wednesday. Salerno said the Obama Administration has been working to create economic opportunities in rural communities and bring well-paying jobs to the people who live there. She said strategic investments in rural businesses not only help to deliver more products and services to local customers - but also contribute to rural revitalization and economic development in the small towns where the businesses are located. According to Salerno - this announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. She said a comprehensive new food, farm and jobs bill would further expand the rural economy. She said that’s one reason Congress needs to get a bill done as soon as possible.
The funding announced Wednesday is available through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program. In addition to promoting development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas - the grants can be used to help fund distance learning networks and employment-related adult education programs. According to a USDA press release - the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program has helped create or save more than 73-thousand rural jobs, provided more than 170.9-million dollars in economic development assistance, improved manufacturing capability and expanded health care and educational facilities since the beginning of the Obama Administration. It has either expanded or helped establish more than 41-thousand rural businesses and community projects.