About $31 million in USDA loans and grants will fund rural economic development in 12 states, the agency said Monday.
The investments are intended to help rural residents start or expand businesses.
"The funds can be used for a wide range of needs. They can help businesses increase production and manufacturing capacity, and can even help rural homeowners save money by making their homes more energy efficient," USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
The funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.
Through the REDLG program, USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities that lend funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas. These revolving loan funds broaden the program's reach and create a multiplier effect for its impact.
Eligible applicants are USDA Rural Utilities Service borrowers. Innovative USDA investments through this program are boosting economic development in rural communities all across the country, Vilsack noted.
Examples of the recipients include the Four County Electric Membership Corp. in North Carolina, which will use funds to buy equipment for a new seafood plant. Other loans will renovate warehouses and manufacturing facilities, and help a charter school build a new, large classroom.
Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the REDLG program has helped create or save more than 32,000 rural jobs, provided almost $338 million in economic development assistance, improved manufacturing capability, expanded health care and educational facilities and helped expand or establish almost 1,200 rural businesses and community projects, USDA said.
These investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities, USDA said.