Washington, DC, Jun 21, 2013 -- Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien today reminded rural business owners and economic development officials that the Department is seeking applications through several loan and grant programs to help rural communities grow their economies 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.
“I’d like to remind rural business owners and economic development officials that funds to help them are available now,” O’Brien said. “Through these USDA programs, the Obama Administration is providing rural communities with resources to support businesses, improve public facilities and create new, sustainable jobs.”
USDA is currently seeking applications to support rural businesses under several programs. For a list of USDA Rural Development State Offices please see list here: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html.
Small, Socially Disadvantage Producer Grant Program
• USDA is accepting applications from cooperatives for grants to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. The maximum grant award is $200,000. The application deadline is July 15, 2013 for paper applications and July 10, 2013 for electronic applications. For additional information on how to apply, see the June 12 Federal Register, page 35239, or visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_SSDPG.html.
Community Connect Grant Program
• Applications are being accepted from state or local governments, cooperative organizations, or Indian tribes for grants to finance broadband deployment in remote, rural areas where broadband is not available, but where it can make a tremendous difference in the quality of life for citizens and businesses. Up to $21 million in grants are available.
Since its inception, the Community Connect program has funded 229 projects with USDA investments of $122 million. In 2012, USDA assistance led to improved broadband service nationwide for nearly 65,000 rural households, businesses and community institutions – such as libraries, schools and first responders. For more information on the program, see page 34979 of the June 11, 2013 Federal Register, or visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-11/pdf/2013-13827.pdf. The application deadline is July 11.
Rural Cooperative Development Grant Program
• Applications are being accepted from qualified non-profit organizations and educational institutions to help rural cooperatives develop new markets for their products and services. The grants may be used to conduct feasibility studies, create business plans, help rural cooperatives develop markets and provide training for cooperative leadership.
USDA may award up to $6.5 million in grants. The deadline for paper applications is July 15, 2013. Electronic copies are due July 10, 2013. For information on how to apply, see page 30848 of the May 23, 2013 Federal Register, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-23/html/2013-12329.htm.
Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program
• USDA is seeking applications from public bodies, nonprofit corporations, Indian tribes, institutions of higher education, and rural cooperatives for technical assistance to help rural businesses expand and create jobs. Up to $2.6 million is available. The maximum grant is $100,000. Part of the funding is reserved for projects benefitting federally recognized Indian tribes and projects benefitting Rural Economic Area Partnerships. The remaining funds are open for national competition.
The application deadline is 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.
Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program
• Soon, USDA will seek applications from local utility cooperatives for loans and grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development. Once awarded funds, USDA rural utilities program borrowers then establish loan funds to businesses to retain or create jobs and upgrade public infrastructure.
USDA business and cooperative development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities. In 2012 alone, they helped almost 10,000 rural business owners or farmers improve their enterprises. Business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53,000 rural jobs last year.
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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).