Biden-Harris Administration invests $15.6 million in rural cooperatives to increase economic opportunity, advance equity in rural NC

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA is investing $15.6 million in loans and grants to spur economic development, catalyze rural prosperity and advance equity through rural cooperatives in rural North Carolina. 

These investments into rural North Carolina are part of President Joe Biden’s commitment to rebuild our economy from the middle out and bottom up, not top down.

“Last month, USDA celebrated its 59th annual National Cooperative Month and the vital role cooperatives play in helping people build bright futures in rural America,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Reginald Speight. “Rural Development provides cooperative technical assistance through Rural Cooperative Development Centers, which are partially funded through USDA’s Rural Cooperative Development Grants.”  

Examples of North Carolina investments are:

  • In Davidson County, EnergyUnited EMC will use a $2 million USDA Rural Economic Development Loan to assist Samet Corporation run water lines to the NC I-85 Industrial Center in Lexington. The new water lines will serve new industrial, manufacturing, and distribution users planned for the industrial park. 
  • In Edgecombe County, Edgecombe-Martin County EMC will use a $300 thousand USDA Rural Economic Development Grant to assist the town of Nashville construct a second fire station. The new station will provide quicker service for the southeastern portion of the fire district and a facility for a new ladder truck. 
  • In Haywood County, Carolina Common Enterprise will use a $175 thousand USDA  Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant to help with the technical assistance of the Carolina Common Enterprise work plan. This project aims to advance the interest in co-ops towards creating community economic self-sufficiency in Halifax and Warren Counties. 
  • In Haywood County, Haywood EMC will use a $300 thousand USDA Rural Economic Development Grant to assist Cruso Fire & Rescue, Inc. purchase a fire truck and related equipment. 
  • In Richmond County, Pee Dee Electric Membership Corporation will use a $300 thousand USDA Rural Economic Development Grant to assist the Northside Volunteer Fire Department purchase of an all-wheel drive mini pumper tanker fire truck and related equipment.   
  • In Surry County, Surry-Yadkin EMC will use a $280 thousand USDA Rural Economic Development Grant to assist town of Elkin, to purchase a Hook Lift Truck to function as a leaf collection and as a dump truck during off-season.


Secretary Vilsack made the announcement during a roundtable with rural community and small business leaders in Colorado, as officials from the Administration are traveling the country as part of the Investing in Rural America Event Series to highlight how the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments are bringing new revenue to farms, increased economic development in rural towns and communities, and more opportunity throughout the country.

“Cooperatives serve as one of our most important partners in delivering critical goods and services to rural communities and is central to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to rebuild the economy from the bottom up and middle out,” Secretary Vilsack said. “For more than a century, the cooperative business model has been integral to rural advancement and the American economy, and today accounts for more than two million jobs across the country. The investments we are announcing today will ensure that cooperatives continue the important work of serving the unique needs of their communities, filling market gaps and building local wealth and opportunities for connection across rural America.” 

Nationally, this announcement includes a total of $1.2 billion in awards that will support 112 projects in diverse communities and industries in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.

USDA is making the investments through a suite of business, utilities and cooperative programs and services such as the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program, Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program and Value-Added Producer Grant Program.

A full list of projects from today’s announcement is available online. 

Background: Rural Cooperatives

Cooperatives are businesses owned and controlled by the people who use them. Cooperatives differ from other businesses because they are member owned and operate for the benefit of members, rather than to earn profits for investors. 

Cooperatives are a trusted, democratic, time-tested business model that builds local wealth for members and communities. Organized to meet the economic needs of its member-owners, a cooperative is a particularly resilient business. It embodies the concept of self-help: members use the cooperative, own it, and control it.

More than 30,000 cooperatives – including agricultural, utility, financial services, purchasing, food and grocery, housing, and retail co-ops – operate at 73,000 places of business throughout the U.S., and account for more than two million jobs, boast about 350 million memberships, and generate more than $700 billion in annual revenue. 

USDA Rural Development offers a variety of financial assistance and services to assist rural businesses, including cooperatives and agricultural producers. For more information on cooperatives, visit USDA Rural Development Cooperative Services

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean-energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

Under 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