USDA Seeks Applications to Support Rural Businesses and Create Jobs

Vicki Schurman
District of Columbia
Release Date
Apr 01, 2015

Agriculture Under Secretary Lisa Mensah has announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants to support rural businesses and help create jobs.

“This USDA funding will ensure continued investments in rural businesses,” Mensah said. “Too often, rural businesses and the communities they serve lack access to the capital and resources they need to grow and thrive. These grants will help remedy that and allow all Americans the chance to share in the nation’s economic recovery.”

Approximately $3.7 million Native American earmark funding is expected to be available under the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program. Eligible applicants include public bodies, government entities, Indian tribes and non-profit organizations.  Applications for projects benefiting Native American communities must show that at least 75 percent of the benefits of the project will be received by members of an Indian tribe on a Federal or State reservation or other Federally recognized tribal group.

RBDG funds can be used for technical assistance, establishment of small business revolving loan funds and the acquisition of land, buildings, and infrastructure to enhance business development.  In addition funds can be used to support business incubators, feasibility studies and business plans, long-term strategic business planning, leadership and entrepreneurial training.  For instance, the Village of Walthill received $50,000 funding to complete a renewable energy feasibility study and a library strategic plan which will allow the Village to determine the next phase of their economic development plan for an energy park and library expansion.  Funding in the amount of $195,169 will allow First Ponca Financial, Inc. to provide technical assistance, education and financial assistance to entrepreneurs for business development.

Applications for national competition for the Native American earmarked funds are due by close of business, 4:30 pm CT, Friday, May 1, 2015. All applications are to be sent to Diane Pavel.  One copy by email and one copy by mail (to include original signed forms) to the following address:

USDA Rural Development
Attn:  Diane Pavel
4009 6th Ave., Suite 1
Kearney, NE  68845-2386

For additional information on the RBDG program, see the March 25 Federal Register.

To discuss applicant or project eligibility please contact one of the following Business Program Specialists.

* Marla Marx, or 308-632-2195 extension 1132 – panhandle and southwest counties

* Kelley Messenger, or 308-237-3118 extension 120 – north and south central counties

* Bill Sheppard,  or 402-371-5350 extension 1004 – northeast and southeast counties

Congress established the RBDG program under the 2014 Farm Bill by combining USDA’s Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) and Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) programs. The new program, like its predecessors, is designed to assist the startup or expansion of small and emerging private businesses and/or non-profits in rural communities.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's 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.