Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced $13.7 million in economic development grants for rural communities and Native American organizations in 48 states. The announcement was made at the 54th Annual Farm Progress Show being held here.

"These grant funds will help rural communities save or create approximately 3,000 jobs and spur economic development," Johanns said. "The grants represent this Administration's ongoing efforts to ensure strategic investments and increase economic opportunities in rural America."

The funds are being provided through the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) programs of USDA's Rural Development mission area. The RBEG program provides funding to schools, businesses and local organizations to help them conduct economic development activities, finance business expansions and make infrastructure improvements. The RBOG program finances training and technical assistance for business development. Thirty recipient organizations announced today are receiving funding under a priority effort that helps create economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of Native Americans living and working in rural communities.

In Maine, for example, the Millinocket Area Growth and Investment Council plans to use USDA Rural Development funds to support economic development activities in the Katahdin area. In Pinal County, Ariz., the funds will be used to offer technical assistance for high-speed internet in the community of Eloy.

A complete list of grant recipients is available on the USDA Rural Development web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development has invested more than $76.8 billion since 2001 for equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure. More than 1.5 million jobs have been created or saved through these investments.