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Nebraska Rural Development is Accepting Proposals for Future Rural Business Development Grants

Meredith Mingledorff
Release Date

Nebraska’s Rural Development Business Programs Director Joan Scheel is encouraging support for small businesses in rural Nebraska through Rural Business Development Grants.  This program is now open for new applications.

 “We are proud to support small businesses through grants and loans, helping our rural main streets thrive.  Everyone can contribute to local business success by ‘shopping local’ this holiday season and by spreading the word about the resources available from USDA Rural Development,” explains Scheel. 

In addition to supporting local businesses as customers, community members can work with USDA Rural Development to access resources to support projects in rural areas that provide small businesses with training, loan funds, and technical assistance.  

These projects have significant impacts in rural areas.  For example, a grant of $43,229 provided to Hayes County Economic Development Corporation. These funds were used to support a local grocery store, a place local residents can purchase those special items for holiday meals in their own community.

Hayes County Economic Development Corporation Director Craig Softley used the funds to provide a loan to Kylene Littrel, who had recently relocated with her family to Hayes County and expressed interest in buying a local grocery store recently up for sale. Softley was able to assist her in creating a business plan and applying for financing. 

Kylene submitted loan applications to Pinnacle Bank and Hayes County Economic Development Corporation’s RBDG Revolving Loan Fund Committee, and in May 2018, she, and her husband Robert, became the new owners of Scott’s Grocery in Hayes Center, Nebraska. 

Softley said the only other options for Hayes’ 214 residents would have been traveling more than 26 miles away. He credits USDA RD for saving his community. 

“Hayes County is grateful for the relationship we have with Marla Marx, our USDA service representative, and for the USDS RD grant received, which allowed us to setup a local revolving loan fund, said Softley. “The revolving loan funds have now been used to transition three existing businesses in Hayes County to new owners, and most importantly kept those businesses open to serve the residents of Hayes County.” 

Rural Business Development Grant money must be used for projects that benefit rural areas or towns outside the urbanized periphery of any city with a population of 50,000 or more, including towns, communities, state agencies, nonprofit corporations, institutions of higher education, federally recognized tribes, and nonprofit rural cooperative corporations. 

These grants provide technical assistance, revolving loan funds, and/or training for small rural businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenue.

There is no maximum grant amount; however, smaller requests are given higher priority. There is no cost sharing requirement. Opportunity grants are limited to up to 10 percent of the total Rural Business Development Grant annual funding.

Scheel says she hopes new applicants will contact her team before December 31st, so they can refine proposals and have packages complete before the next funding deadline, which is expected to be early 2023. 

Interested persons are encouraged to contact the following RD personnel:  
Business Programs Specialist Marla J. Marx, 308-632-2195, Marla.Marx@usda.gov.  
Business Programs Specialist Brant Richardson, 402-437-5568, Brant.Richardson@usda.gov.
Business Programs Specialist Jolene Jones, 308-455-9840, Jolene.Jones@usda.gov

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, health care, and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, promoting competition and fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov/ne.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, lender, and employer.