SCRANTON -– On Friday, Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-08) announced nearly $135,000 in federal grants that will bolster economic development in Wayne County, including one grant that will pave the way for a new local dairy processing plant.
The funding comes from two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants:
- The first grant, which totals $34,767, was awarded to Wayne County to conduct a feasibility study for a new local dairy processing plant. In Wayne County, the dairy industry serves as a motor of the local agricultural economy, generating about $18 million annually in economic output.
- The second grant, which totals $99,999, was awarded to the Wayne Economic Development Corporation for the Waymart Natural Gas Expansion Project. It will fund the extension of a natural gas line along State Route 296, Honesdale Road, and to Railroad Lane in Canaan Township and Waymart Borough, bringing natural gas to 47 residential parcels, two churches, and eight businesses, as well as 29 acres of developable land and the Waymart Area Authority.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture made these awards through their Rural Business Enterprise Grant program, which finances or facilitates the growth of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The USDA’s Rural Development offices offer many financial assistance programs for a variety of rural applications.
“This award will build on Wayne County’s careful planning for agricultural development and will bolster our goal of growing family-sustaining jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Rep. Cartwright, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “The dairy industry is a vital part of the local economy in Wayne County; it is a deep part of our community’s way of life, culture, and history. I’ll keep advocating for these kinds of federal investments, which help farmers and small businesses in rural communities.”
The first grant will lay the foundations toward establishing a dairy processing plant in Wayne County, a mission shared by Rep. Cartwright and county officials. Earlier this year, when the Wayne County Commissioners’ Office kicked off the process by applying for the USDA grant, Rep. Cartwright sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s USDA Rural Development State Director supporting the effort.
“Not that long ago, we had 1,500 dairy farms in Wayne County; we now have less than 50,” said Brian Smith, Chairman of the Wayne County Commissioners’ Office. “We feel confident that the study will reveal a fantastic opportunity to re-establish a very important part of our local agricultural economy, ensure the existence and sustainability of our local farms, and allow our next generation of farmers to produce food, that ultimately provides for our National Security through a secure domestic food supply.”
The second grant will expand access to natural gas in part of Wayne County.
“The extension of natural gas distribution lines within Canaan Township and the Borough of Waymart will improve the resiliency of these rural communities,” said Mary Beth Wood, Executive Director of the Wayne Economic Development Corporation. “The USDA grant is an important financial piece to making the overall project work. We are grateful to our federal legislators and to the USDA Rural Development for their support in making this investment in Wayne County.”
“USDA Rural Development is proud to fund this study for the County of Wayne and help WEDCO fund residential and commercial access to natural gas infrastructure in rural communities,” said Curt Coccodrilli, State Director for USDA Rural Development. “This type of funding may lead to hundreds of new jobs and is the essence of what USDA Rural Development can do to identify and bolster economic development in an area of Pennsylvania that needs it most. Together, America Prospers.”
For over 75 years, the USDA has been a strong partner and advocate for rural communities across the country. It promotes economic development in rural areas through programs like the Rural Business Enterprise Grant, which was established through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.