USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small Visits Traverse City, Talks Infrastructure

Six months ago, the Biden administration signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small and State Director for Michigan Brandon Fewins paid a visit to Traverse City, looking at new projects underway.

“I’m really enjoying the opportunity to learn from Traverse City, to feel the dedication to community,” said Torres Small.

Under Secretary Torres Small wants to figure out how rural development can be a strong partner to places like Traverse City and continue to invest in projects like Commongrounds Cooperative.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to being true partners in rural communities and here in Michigan, we’re very inspired by the work that’s done as a cooperative,” said Torres Small.

Commongrounds Cooperative is using an $8 million Business and Industry Loan to build a multi-use facility on Eighth Street in Traverse City.

“The community-based support that is making this project possible, the clear planning that was done when it comes to identifying community needs, like early-childhood care, or mixed-level income housing, workforce housing,” said Torres Small.

The USDA is issuing grants through the Rural Energy for America Program.

Cherry Republic received two of these grants, helping them upgrade equipment in their plant facility and install a solar panel roof system.

“These grants from the USDA are very important because it typically doesn’t make financial sense always, to do something in a small town with logistics and the pool of resources,” said Cherry Republic CEO Todd Ciolek. “It added that extra incentive for Cherry Republic, to make these investments in our small towns.”

The USDA says ensuring safe drinking water, increasing low-income housing and improving high speed internet access are just a few of the programs they’re working on, besides renewable energy for businesses.

For more information on applying for a grant through the Rural Energy for America Program, you can visit their website.