News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

“Historic” USDA investment looks to solidify rural Michigan

Social distancing is easier in rural areas.
Dean Conger
Corbis via Getty Images
Social distancing is easier in rural areas.

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced $74 million dollars of funding is headed to rural communities in Michigan.

Nine projects throughout the state will receive what federal officials are calling a historic investment.

“We really assist communities from building from the ground up,” said Brandon Fewins, Michigan’s USDA Rural Development State Director. “And the investments that we announced show that we can provide the building blocks for our rural communities to help them thrive economically.”

According to Fewins, the amounts distributed were based on the county’s median household income.

“It will be a formula that's based on your medium household income,” Fewins said. “And that determines what your grant portion is. So it's not an arbitrary process.”

Isabella County received a $41.5 million loan that will be used to build a public safety and correctional facility in Union Township.

Funding is also going to communities in Montcalm, Clare, and Saginaw Counties to revitalize sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants.

Fewins said communities were offered low rates on loans, but that could soon change.

“Well, the rates are starting to go up, and that’s why it’s important for communities if they have projects that are ready, to sit down with one of our team members.”

The USDA is planning to provide more funding later this year to help bring broadband internet to rural Michigan.

Sean Chase is from Newaygo, Michigan. He is a senior at Central Michigan University pursuing a journalism degree.