WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that more than $6.4 million in grant funds will be provided to 33 organizations in 22 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to support rural economic development efforts.

The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development's Rural Community Development Initiative Program.

"Rural America is experiencing a true renaissance and these funds are intended to help ensure that more areas of our nation have the opportunity to participate," said Johanns. "These funds will assist in the effort to provide affordable housing and public facilities to the residents of rural communities."

USDA Rural Development's Rural Community Development Initiative assists nonprofit community based development organizations, federally recognized Indian tribes and low-income communities to improve their ability to promote economic growth. Recipients are required to obtain matching funds, doubling the value of the grants. The grants are awarded to an intermediary organization, which can be public or private (including tribal). The funds are then provided to recipients, which must be located in eligible rural areas.

For example, the California Coalition for Rural Housing will receive $100,000 to provide training to five tribes to assist in acquiring and developing land for housing with the goal of promoting homeownership. The Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor will receive $300,000 to provide technical assistance to 27 low income communities. The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center will receive $300,000 to provide 12 communities with populations of 5,000 or less economic development counseling and technical assistance.

States receiving funding include: Alaska, Ark., Calif., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Ky., Mass., Maine, Mont., N.C., Neb., NY, Ohio, Okla., Ore., S.D. Texas, Va., Wash., and Wis. Also receiving funding are organizations in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A complete list of the loan recipients is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural communities. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development has invested over $72 billion in the past sic years to provide equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More than 1.2 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments.

SOURCE: USDA news release.