News Release
Release No.STELPRD4015351
ContactEmily Cannon(207) 990-9175
Funding Available For Regional Economic Development Strategies
Washington, D.C., Mar 21, 2012 --

@@Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is seeking applications for grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development.  

“This funding is part of the Obama administration’s commitment to using existing federal resources to foster regional innovation, create sustainable jobs and help ensure long-term prosperity,” Vilsack said.  “The funding will speed up job creation and new business start-ups and expansions by building regional economic systems in rural areas.

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “The Rural Community Development Initiative provides recipient organizations with funds that act as a catalyst for economic development, job creation, and community capacity building. I strongly encourage eligible Maine organizations to apply for this valuable funding opportunity.”

USDA Rural Development plans to award up to $8.6 million through the Rural Community Development Initiative program. Applications are sought for projects that:

    • Provide technical assistance to improve the capacity of local organizations to complete successful housing, economic development and community facilities projects;

    • Help recipients complete pre-development requirements – such as architectural and engineering plans;

    • Help development organizations improve their board operations, management and knowledge of financial and information technology systems;

    • Provide homeownership education or training for entrepreneurs.

   Part of the RCDI funds to be awarded may be used for projects associated with the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which was announced on March 8, 2012. This initiative was designed by the Taskforce for the Advancement of Regional Innovation Clusters and the White House Rural Council.  Secretary Vilsack chairs the Council. The Jobs Accelerator is being funded by USDA, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the Delta Regional Authority and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is May 9, 2012.  Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant’s headquarters are located.  A list of these offices is available on the USDA Rural Development website. For more information, see the March 21 Federal Register.

The deadline to apply for RCDI funding for Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator projects is May 9, 2012. For more information on how to apply, please visit Applications for Jobs Accelerator projects must be submitted to both USDA and the EDA.

USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 69 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at