USDA Provides $5.8 Million to Strengthen the Rural Economy in 11 States

Emily Cannon
District of Columbia
Release Date
Jun 15, 2016

In Maine the Sunrise County Economic Council will receive a Total of $600,000

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers today announced that USDA is providing $5.8 million for grants and loans to support rural economic development projects and create jobs in 11 states.

"This funding will help small businesses access capital that they would not have had otherwise, generating new economic activity in rural communities," USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers said. "USDA is proud to support small, rural businesses so they can compete in the marketplace."

USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am pleased this valuable USDA Rural Development program can assist the Sunrise County Economic Council. Through relending of these funds, SCEC will provide small and emerging rural Washington County businesses with loan opportunities which will promote their growth, business development, and job creation.”

Funding is being provided through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) and the Intermediary Relending Program (IRP).

In Maine, the Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC) has been selected to receive a Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program Loan in the amount of $500,000 and Grant in the amount of $100,000. Funds will be used to make microloans to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises and assist Washington County businesses seeking to grow, expand and create employment opportunities. It is estimated that 12 businesses will be assisted, 42 jobs retained, and 12 jobs created.

The SCEC is a designated Great Regions Initiative partner. In Maine the Great Region was designated in August of 2013, and consists of Aroostook, Piscataquis, and Washington Counties. A designated Great Region is a multi-county region with a regional economic development plan developed by a local/regional team with broad participation, where the plan is built upon careful analysis of the region’s assets, including its key current and emerging economic clusters.

RMAP funding helps very small, rural businesses compete in the larger economy by giving microenterprises access to capital to grow their businesses. Nonprofit organizations, federally-recognized Tribes, public institutions of higher learning and businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees are eligible to apply for RMAP. Projects must be in a rural area outside a city or town with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents, and funding may be used for working capital, debt refinancing and for purchasing equipment, supplies and real estate.

USDA Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 54 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at