Washington, DC, May 14, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications from qualified organizations to provide technical assistance to rural businesses to help them expand and create jobs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These grants will help businesses get access to planning, mentoring and other services that can help ensure their success,” Vilsack said. “This assistance will provide development and managerial services that often are not readily available to businesses in rural areas, part of the Obama Administration’s effort to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country.”
Funding will be provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) program. Up to $2.6 million is available through this notice. The maximum grant is $100,000.
Grants may be used for feasibility studies, strategic planning, leadership training and other types of business development activities. Eligible applicants include public bodies, non-profit corporations, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes and rural cooperatives.
USDA Rural Development is also soliciting RBOG applications to support a new Obama administration initiative called Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP). USDA is partnering with the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency to promote development of new manufacturing jobs. RBOG applicants, for example, could seek grants to help rural communities develop long-term strategic plans for their manufacturing sectors or to provide training to entrepreneurs who want to create manufacturing businesses in rural areas. Applicants who receive RBOG funding complementing the IMCP initiative may later be eligible for larger grants directly through the initiative.
Some of the funding available under this RBOG notice will be made available for projects benefitting federally recognized Indian tribes and projects benefitting Rural Economic Area Partnerships. The remaining funds are open for national competition.
The RBOG program and other USDA business and cooperate development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities. In 2012 alone, they helped almost 10,000 rural small business owners or farmers improve their enterprises. Business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53,000 rural jobs in 2012.
For example, in 2012 USDA Rural Development awarded a $50,000 Rural Business Opportunity Grant to South Dakota State University to develop a strategy to build capacity in South Dakota’s local food system through the establishment of a Local Foods Center which would create structured connections between local growers and resource providers.
The application deadlines for Rural Business Opportunity Grants are June 30 for partnership funds and June 28 for all other requests. For additional information on how to apply, see the May 14 Federal Register, page 28184, or visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-14/html/2013-11451.htm.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.