What does this program do?
The Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which they, in turn, pass through to local businesses (ultimate recipients) for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas. The ultimate recipients repay the lending utility directly. The utility then is responsible for repayment to USDA.
USDA provides grants to local utility organizations which use the funding to establish Revolving Loan Funds (RLF). Loans are made from the revolving loan funds to projects that will create or retain rural jobs. When the revolving loan fund is terminated, the grant is repaid to USDA.
Who may apply to this program?
To receive funding (which will be forwarded to selected eligible projects), an entity must be:
- A former Rural Utilities Service borrower who borrowed, repaid or pre-paid an insured, direct or guaranteed loan.
- Nonprofit utilities that are eligible to receive assistance from the Rural Development Electric or Telecommunication Programs.
- Current Rural Development Electric or Telecommunication Programs borrowers.
What is an eligible area?
Intermediaries may use funds to lend for projects in rural areas or towns with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents.
How much funding is available to local utilities?
- Up to $300,000 in grants may be requested to establish the Revolving Loan Funds.
- Up to 10 percent of grant funds may be applied toward operating expenses over the life of the Revolving Loan Fund.
- Up to $1 million in loans may be requested.
The local utility applies to USDA for funding support on behalf of specified local projects. Projects may begin after an application is submitted, but there is no guarantee of approval. USDA funds are issued to the local utility at project completion.
What are the terms for the local utility?
- 10 years at 0 percent interest.
- Grants require a 20 percent match from the local utility.
- Grants must be repaid to USDA upon termination of the Revolving Loan Fund.
How may funds be used?
The local utility passes the funding to ultimate recipients for such eligible projects as:
- Business incubators.
- Community development assistance to nonprofits and public bodies (particularly for job creation or enhancement).
- Facilities and equipment to educate and train rural residents to facilitate economic development.
- Facilities and equipment for medical care for rural residents.
- Start-up venture costs, including, but not limited to, financing fixed assets such as real estate, buildings, equipment or working capital.
- Business expansion.
- Technical assistance.
How much funding is available to business and community borrowers (the ultimate recipients) through the Revolving Loan Fund?
An ultimate recipient may request up to 80 percent of project costs using these funds, with the remainder provided by the ultimate recipient or the local utility.
What are the terms on the loan to the ultimate recipient?
- The interest rate is 0 percent.
- Up to 80 percent of project costs; 20 percent must be provided by the ultimate recipient or the local utility.
- The local utility may incorporate interest rates or administrative loan fees after the funds have been loaned out and revolved once. First-time loans are at 0 percent interest.
- Repayment may be deferred up to two years for projects including a start-up venture or Community Facilities project.
How do we get started?
Applications for this program are accepted through your local office year-round. You should work with your local office
to acquire the documents needed to submit an application.
Who can answer questions?
What law governs this program?
- Basic Program – Code of Federal Regulations, 7 CFR, Part 4280.
- Loan/Grant Servicing – Code of Federal Regulations, 7 CFR, Part 4280 and 2 CFR Part 200.
- This program is authorized by the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.
Why does USDA Rural Development do this?
Rural Development undertakes this program in order to promote rural economic development and job creation projects.
Because citations and other information may be subject to change, please always consult the program instructions listed in the section above titled “What law governs this program?” You may also contact your local office