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Grants from USDA to fund rural development in Ionia and Shiawassee Counties

Photo provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The federal grant funding targets rural communities with fewer than 2,500 residents.

More than one million dollars in federal grant money will fund health care and economic development projects in two rural Michigan communities.

One million dollars from the USDA will be used to expand facilities at Sparrow-Ionia hospital.

Brandon Fewins, the State Director for the USDA, said the pandemic revealed how important it is to keep physical rehab patients separate from inpatient residents.

“The more that we can keep our just our rehab facilities separate from the main campus, that's going to benefit and make a safer environment,” Fewins said.

He said it is a priority for the USDA to assist healthcare facilities in rural areas so they are able to handle future crises, like the COVID pandemic.

Another grant worth $150,000 dollars will help ten communities in Shiawassee county identify and fund rural development opportunities.

Fewins says federal programs can help municipalities lacking people-power and expertise to apply for grants.

“I think that this is something that could really become a template for other counties throughout the state,” he said.

Jill Harrington is a senior at CMU majoring in journalism and minoring in theatre and interpretation. Jill grew up in Novi, Michigan and started reporting for WCMU in summer 2022.