United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the department is investing $58,484,076 to help keep resources and wealth right at home in rural Florida and the Virgin Islands through job training, business expansion and technical assistance. Across Florida and the Virgin Islands, USDA invested in 19 projects: $57,384,078 in loans and $1,099,998 in grants.
“For some time, rural America has been at the mercy of an extraction economy, where resources are taken from rural lands only to create jobs and economic opportunity in urban and suburban areas,” Vilsack said. “That’s why USDA is committed to doing what we can to change that extraction economy into a circular economy, where value is added closer to home, so the wealth created in rural areas stays in rural areas. Today’s announcement underlines the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to helping transform the economy and bring high-paying jobs and economic opportunities to the people who need it most.”
The funding announced will help people and businesses in diverse communities and industries in Florida and throughout 48 states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
Investments in the Virgin Islands include:
Central Wholesale Inc. in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, will use $4,450,000 to purchase a building and open a second location. The new 16,000 sq. ft. location is near the cruise port and well-populated areas of Estate Thomas, Havensite and Frenchman’s Bay. The store will provide tourist items for visitors from the cruise port.
Tramway Properties LLC in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, will use $5,000,000 to refinance a real estate debt and provide working capital. The project consists of a gondola sky lift, skyride to Paradise Point and providing transportation to passengers on Flag Hill on St. Thomas. Paradise Point is a popular location with restaurants and retail shops that provide panoramic views of the harbor at 700 ft. elevation.
Abacus International LLC in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, will use $5,100,000 to purchase equipment for the company.
Vilsack highlighted 751 investments that USDA is making in eight programs specifically designed to create economic opportunities for people and businesses in rural areas. These programs include Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantees, which provided record-breaking investments in fiscal year 2021; and the B&I CARES Act Program, which has helped create thousands of jobs with funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Programs also include Rural Innovation Stronger Economy 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.
Under the leadership of 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.
To learn more about the United States Department of Agriculture and its programs, visit www.usda.gov.