USDA-Rural Development (USDA-RD) Alaska, Business Program Director Renee Johnson today announced USDA-RD is now accepting applications to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas.
"These grants will help socially-disadvantaged business owners develop the tools and skills they need to grow their operations and make it possible to create jobs and bolster economic opportunities in rural areas," Johnson said. "The Alaskan agriculture industry has been growing steadily. This growth generates increasing diversity in many ways, with more minorities and women seeking to enter the field, as well as greater diversity in the age of farmers, the size of operations, in production methods, and in the types of crops being grown."
Funding will be made available through USDA’s Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program (formerly the Small, Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant Program), which assists organizations that provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance are conducting feasibility studies, developing business and strategic plans, and providing leadership training.
USDA plans to make up to $3 million in grants available nationally. The maximum award under this notice is $175,000. More information on how to apply can be found on page 28937 of the May 20 Federal Register. Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 20, 2015. Electronic applications must be submitted at www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time July 14, 2015. Application templates and resource materials are available online at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/socially-disadvantaged-groups-grant.
Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers and individual cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or centers can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area. Also, the majority of the governing body of the organization must be compromised of individuals who are members of socially-disadvantaged groups.
USDA Rural Development is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. All grants are awarded through a national competition.
President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.