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USDA is Seeking Applications for Grants to Help Expand Regional Economies and Create High-wage Jobs in Distressed Rural Communities

Erin McDuff
Release Date

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is launching a new program and accepting applications for grants to improve rural economic development by helping rural communities create high-wage jobs and accelerate the formation of businesses.

The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Program is intended to help economically distressed rural communities identify and maximize local assets, support workforce development, spur job creation, and connect to regional networks and industry clusters. This new grant program encourages a regional, innovation-driven approach to economic development.

Up to $10 million is available nationwide this year. Consortiums of state and local government entities; institutions of higher education, tribal entities, nonprofits, investors, industry groups, and other public and private entities in rural areas are eligible to apply for individual grants of $500,000 to $2 million. These grants are awarded on a competitive basis.

The funds may be used to form job accelerator partnerships and create high-wage jobs, start or expand businesses, and support economic growth in rural areas of the region. The grants may also be used to establish and operate innovation centers and partnership that, for example, integrate rural businesses into new supply chains, provide workforce training, or identify community assets.

To help ensure long-term, sustainable community and economic development, the grant recipients must support the projects for at least four years.

Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov by 8:59 p.m. on August 2, 2021.

We encourage potential applicants in Oregon to contact Faith Harris, Business and Cooperative Programs Specialist, (503) 414-3358, well ahead of the application deadline to discuss your project proposal and learn more about the application process. Prior to submitting an application, applicants may request technical assistance and guidance, as long as such requests are received prior to July 16, 2021. 

Applicants are invited to join USDA for a webinar to learn more about this funding opportunity.

          What:    Rural Innovation Stronger Economy Application Webinar
          When:   Tuesday, June 22, 2021 @ 8:30 a.m. Pacific Time
          Where:  Online
          How:     Register for free today

Additional information is also available on page 32016 of the June 16, 2021, Federal Register.

This program was established through a final rule published on page 31585 of the June 15, 2021, Federal Register. Although the final rule is effective immediately to allow for the prompt implementation of the program, the public is invited to submit comments on any aspect of the final rule. All comments must be submitted electronically through regulations.gov by August 16, 2021.