Washington, DC, Aug 20, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $12.2 million in loans and grants to support rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises. The U.S. 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.
“By supporting very small business enterprises through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, USDA has been able to direct assistance to small, rural businesses that otherwise would not be able to obtain the credit they need to achieve their goals," said Vilsack. "This program has shown that even a modest investment of Federal dollars can have a huge impact for the local economy in small towns across rural America."
USDA's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) was established under the 2008 Farm Bill to support the development and ongoing success of rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, which are rural businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Under the program, USDA may provide loans of up to $500,000 to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) that, in turn, make microloans for business start-up or development to eligible microentrepreneurs who are unable to obtain conventional credit elsewhere. Grants of up to $30,000 are available for MDOs to provide technical assistance and training, particularly in rural areas that have experienced significant outmigration.
RMAP applications are due by 4:30 p.m. local time September 13, 2013. More information about how to apply is available in the Wednesday, August 14, 2013 Federal Register announcement http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-14/pdf/2013-19765.pdf or by contacting the Nebraska USDA Rural Development state office, Deborah Drbal, Business Programs Specialist at 402-437-5558 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
In 2010, USDA provided the Center for Rural Affairs a $400,000 loan and $100,000 grant to capitalize a revolving loan fund and provide technical assistance for microbusinesses in rural Nebraska. In the first 30 months of the project, this organization has helped 14 microenterprises with direct loans totaling $579,000 that have created or saved 29 jobs. The businesses supported include grocery, trucking, building contracting, medical services and a beauty salon.
Since the inception of the program in 2010, the Obama Administration has provided 97 loans totaling more than $37 million and 124 grants totaling more than $9.5 million to 110 MDOs to support rural microentrepreneurs. These organizations used the USDA funding to make more than 760 microloans, for a little over $20 million, to 712 rural microenterprises. The assistance to the individual businesses has created or saved more than 2,700 jobs.
Secretary Vilsack said the announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs, such as RMAP, for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added, saying that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Bill done as soon as possible.
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 the Department 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).