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USDA Seeking Rural Grant Applications

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced it is seeking applications for loans and grants to help rural businesses create new jobs and encourage general economic development in rural areas by way of funding provided under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program.

The new grant program is part of the current administration’s efforts to improve the lives of rural Americans by putting more people back to work and to help build more robust economies in rural communities. In conjunction with the American Jobs Act and the White House Rural Council, the federal government is working toward being an active partner for rural businesses and for those Americans who want to live, work and raise families in the rural parts of the nation. The USDA contends that giving people better access to capital leads to job creation and a revitalization of the rural economy. The USDA said it will work more closely in partnership with cooperatives and utilities across America because the agency intends to use the new program to leverage both federal and private investments in order to put more rural residents back to work.

The eligible recipients under the program are USDA rural utilities program borrowers that will pass the funds along to local organizations. The intent is to leverage the funding to create projects that will retain jobs or create new ones and upgrade the public infrastructure at the same time. The maximum amount of funding under this program for any single project is $1 million in direct loans or $300,000 in grants. The USDA currently administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure through a network of state and local offices that oversee an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. The existing programs, like the new rural grant program, were all designed with the goal of improving the quality of life in rural America by bolstering the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers across the country.

The USDA said it plans to award up to $79 million in loan and $10 million in grants through the rural grant program before the end of this year. The deadline for submitting applications is the last business day of each month through September 30th, 2012. All applications must be submitted to the Rural Development state office where the project will be located. More detailed information on the grant program as well as a list of Rural Development offices is available at the United States Department of Agriculture web site.