Funding to promote long-term economic growth and community vitality in rural areas is available, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“USDA is committed to helping rural communities access the resources they need to implement strategies that will invigorate the economy, reduce poverty and enhance the quality of life in our small towns and rural areas for years to come,” he said.
The announcement includes $30.6 million in zero-interest loans and $9.2 million in grants to establish revolving loan funds that finance business and economic development activities in rural areas. Applications for these funds will be accepted through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.
Rural utilities that are eligible for USDA financing under the Rural Electrification Act and have the capacity to serve as intermediary lenders may apply to USDA Rural Development to administer the funds locally for the benefit of specifically identified projects. These intermediaries re-lend REDLG funds at zero percent to assist with business startup and expansion, business technical assistance and job training and community facilities projects that support economic development.
Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis through USDA Rural Development State Offices and are evaluated for funding consideration monthly.
Through the Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program, USDA Rural Development is accepting competitive grant applications to improve economic conditions in designated Rural Economic Area Partnership Zones and for members of Native American tribes in rural areas. Government entities, nonprofit corporations, institutions of higher education, rural cooperatives and Native American tribes may apply for grants of up to $100,000. Funding may be used to support business incubators, feasibility studies and business plans, long-term strategic business planning, leadership and entrepreneurial training and other related efforts. Just over $1.3 million is reserved for projects benefiting Native American communities. Another $919,820 is reserved for projects with Rural Economic Area Partnerships.
In addition, two grants from funds appropriated for the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program are available – a $500,000 grant for rural transportation projects and a $250,000 grant for Federally Recognized Native American Tribes. Funds may be used to provide technical assistance and training to help rural communities improve passenger transportation services or facilities.
For more information and application deadlines, persons can visit www.usda.gov.