Program 101

Are Applications Currently Being Accepted?  YES
 

What does this program do?

This program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in gross revenue. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

Who may apply for this program?

Rural public entities including, but not limited to:

  • Towns
  • Communities
  • State agencies
  • Authorities
  • Nonprofit corporations
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Rural cooperatives (If organized as a private nonprofit corporation)

What is an eligible area?

RBDG funds must be used for projects benefitting rural areas or towns outside the urbanized periphery of any city with a population of 50,000 or more. Check eligible areas.

How much funding is available?

There is no maximum grant amount; however, smaller requests are given higher priority. Generally, grants range from $10,000 to $500,000. There is no cost sharing requirement. Opportunity grants are limited to up to 10 percent of the total RBDG annual funding.

How may funds be used?

Enterprise grants must be used on projects to benefit small and emerging businesses in rural areas as specified in the grant application. Uses may include:

  • Training and technical assistance, such as project planning, business counseling/training, market research, feasibility studies, professional/technical reports, or product/service improvements
  • Acquisition or development of land, easements, or rights of way; construction, conversion, renovation of buildings; plants, machinery, equipment, access for streets and roads; parking areas and utilities
  • Pollution control and abatement
  • Capitalization of revolving loan funds, including funds that will make loans for start-ups and working capital
  • Distance adult learning for job training and advancement
  • Rural transportation improvement
  • Community economic development
  • Technology-based economic development
  • Feasibility studies and business plans
  • Leadership and entrepreneur training
  • Rural business incubators
  • Long-term business strategic planning

Opportunity grants can be used for:

  • Community economic development
  • Technology-based economic development
  • Feasibility studies and business plans
  • Leadership and entrepreneur training
  • Rural business incubators
  • Long-term business strategic planning

How are applications evaluated?

All applications are evaluated based on:

  • Evidence showing job creation at local businesses;
  • Percent of non-federal funding committed to the project;
  • Economic need in the area to be served;
  • Consistency with local economic development priorities;
  • Experience of the grantee with similar efforts; and

Other factors described in the current Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA), if one is published.

How do we get started?

  • Applications are accepted through USDA Rural Development’s local or State offices once per year. Applicants are advised to view program information specific to your local or State office to learn about local application timelines, concept paper requirements, etc.
  • Grant awardees will need to complete required paperwork and comply with the terms and conditions of the award.  Contact your local or State office for details.

 Who can answer questions?

 What governs this program?

  • Basic Program – 7 CFR Part 4280, Subpart E.  This program is authorized by the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (ConAct)

What governed the predecessor programs of Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG) and Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG), as well as all awards given before FY 2015?

  • RBEG Basic Program - RD Instruction 1942-G
  • RBOG Basic Program - 7 CFR Part 4284
  • This program was authorized by the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (ConAct)

Why does USDA Rural Development do this?

This program provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate the development of small and emerging rural businesses, help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment-related adult education programs. To assist with business development, RBDGs may fund a broad array of activities.

Printable Fact Sheet

Forms & Resources

NOTE: If state specific forms are not shown above, please refer to the application materials listed below to start the process of applying. Please ensure that your state is selected in the dropdown menu above to find the State Office contact information for this program and speak to a Business Programs Specialist before attempting to fill out any forms or applications. This will save you valuable time in the process.

Preliminary Actions Required

To complete an application for this program, you must be pre-registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and also have a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number. Neither of these applications cost money, but they can take time so be sure to get this taken care of right away. If you are already registered with these systems, you do not need to do it again.

Special Alert for SAM Registrants

Last year, we alerted our vendor community to third party companies offering to help you update information contained within the System for Award Management (www.SAM.gov) website, for a fee.  Your SAM registration contains sensitive business information, including your banking information and other sensitive information, so your login and password should not be shared with anyone outside your company.  As a reminder, the use of the System for Award Management website is free to use and update, and the Commodity Procurement Staff does not see a reason to pay anyone to provide that service. 

Secondly, we have just become aware of a couple of scam emails that offer to “help companies start the renewal process online” or suggest that “Your Federal Profile is Almost Complete. Immediate Action Required!”  In both cases, your free access to SAM.gov will resolve any questions you may have regarding your registration in SAM.gov.  As you know SAM.gov requires an annual recertification and sends out email reminders prior to the expiration, and again, updates should be handled by company employees.  Furthermore, if your registration is not complete, you may login to SAM.gov to make that determination for yourself. 

Please remember that SAM.gov is not affiliated with the USDA and is a government-wide website not maintained by our Agency.  If you have any questions regarding access or how to use SAM, please contact their help desk at 866-606-8220, option #1.

Useful Forms