RALEIGH -

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is visiting North Carolina to highlight efforts by the Obama administration to grow rural manufacturing, create more jobs and help generate economic opportunity in small towns and rural communities.

Vilsack is scheduled Friday to visit Tarheel Plastics, LLC in Davidson County. The company produces components for automobiles and a wide variety of household appliances.

Vilsack will also tour the Piedmont Electric Cooperative headquarters in Hillsborough, where he will announce that USDA has reached its $250 million goal to finance smart grid technologies. He will award nine rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 10 states, including North Carolina, with loan guarantees to make improvements to generation and transmission facilities and implement smart grid technologies.