US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing more than $1.2 billion in loans and grants to spur economic development, catalyze rural prosperity and advance equity through rural cooperatives in 36 states and Puerto Rico.
As part of this announcement, Hawaiʻi Sea Spirits LLC (producer of OCEAN Organic Vodka) is to receive a $10 million Business and Industry Loan Guarantee to assist the small organic cane sugar farm, providing the opportunity to expand its business in the distillery, retail and commercial kitchen café business on 80 acres on the Island of Maui.
The farm receives on average 40,000 visitors annually for tastings, tours and visits to the café. Hawaiʻi Sea Spirits LLC was established in 2005 by the Smith Family.
“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,” 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,” he said. “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.”
Chris Kanazawa, USDA Rural Development State Director for Hawaii and Western Pacific said, “these investments in small rural businesses help owners create new jobs, expand entrepreneurial opportunities and contribute to the prosperity of rural communities.” Kanazawa also noted that, “Rural Development is a strong advocate of rural business owners to allow small businesses to grow and open new doors to new economic opportunities.”
Today’s announcement includes a total of $1.2 billion in awards that will support 112 projects in
communities and industries in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaiʻi,
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,
Vilsack made today’s announcement during a roundtable with rural community and small business leaders in Colorado.
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.