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U.S. Department of Agriculture: Rural Business Development Grants

Deadline: April 29, 2016

Rural Business Development Grants (RBDG) are designed to support targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that have fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenues. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

Enterprise grants must be used on projects to benefit small and emerging businesses in rural areas. Uses may include:

  • Acquisition and development of land, easements, and rights-of way (no housing)
  • Construction, conversion, enlargement, repairs or modernization of buildings, plants, equipment, access streets and roads, parking areas, utilities, pollution control facilities (note that real estate projects are subject to an environmental review that can take as long as 3 months)
  • Provision of loans for start-up operating costs and working capital
  • Reasonable fees and charges for professional services necessary for planning and development of a project
  • Establishment, expansion, and operation of rural distance learning networks or development of rural learning programs that provide educational instruction or job training instruction related to potential employment or job advancements for adult students
  • Provision of technical assistance for small and emerging businesses, including but not limited to feasibility studies and business plans

Opportunity type grant funding can be used to:

  • Identify and analyze business opportunities that will use local rural materials or human resources
  • Identify, train, and provide technical assistance to benefit existing or prospective rural entrepreneurs and managers
  • Establish Business Support Centers and otherwise assist in the creation of new rural businesses
  • Conduct local community or multi-county economic development planning
  • Conduct leadership training of existing or prospective adult rural entrepreneurs and managers
  • Establish centers for training, technology, and trade that will provide training to rural businesses in the utilization of interactive communications technologies to develop international trade opportunities and markets
  • Pay reasonable fees and charges for professional services necessary to conduct the technical assistance, training or planning functions

Applicants are encouraged to consult with Rural Development staff well in advance of filing an application. See: http://www.rd.usda.gov/nm.

There is a set-aside amount available for applications that benefit Native American businesses.

Amount: Enterprise grants generally range from $10,000 to up to $500,000. There is no cost sharing requirement. Opportunity type grant funding is limited to a maximum award of $50,000. Total opportunity type grant funding is limited statutorily to up to 10% of the total RBDG annual funding.

Eligibility: Rural public entities including, but not limited to the following, may apply: towns; communities; state agencies; authorities; nonprofits; institutions of higher education; federally-recognized tribes; and rural cooperatives. Funds must be directed for projects benefiting rural areas or towns outside the urbanized periphery of any city with a population of 50,000 or more.

Link: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-business-development-grants

Note: There is a pre-application workshop scheduled for March 16 at 10:00 am at the USDA Rural Development Office in Albuquerque.

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