Program 101

Are Applications Currently Being Accepted: YES
Application Deadline: Notice of Solicitation of Application (pdf)

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 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; or
  • 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 50,000 or less.

How much funding is available to intermediaries?

  • Up to $300,000 in grants may be requested to establish the RLF
  • Up to 10 percent of grant funds may be applied toward operating expenses over the life of the RLF
  • Up to $1 million in loans may be requested

The intermediary 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 intermediary at project completion.

What are the terms for the intermediary?

  • 10 years at 0 percent
  • Grants require a 20 percent match from the intermediary
  • Grants must be repaid to USDA upon termination of the RLF

How may funds be used?

Program intermediaries pass the funding to ultimate recipients on to eligible projects. Examples of eligible projects include:

  • 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

NOTE: 7 CFR, Part 4280.27 and 7 CFR, Part 4280.30 list ineligible uses

How much funding is available to business and community borrowers (ultimate recipients) through the RLF?

An ultimate recipient may request up to 80 percent of project costs using REDLG funds, with the remainder provided by the ultimate recipient or the intermediary

What are the terms on the loan to the ultimate recipient?

  • Interest rate is 0 percent
  • Up to 80 percent of project costs; 20 percent must be provided by the ultimate recipient or the intermediary
  • The intermediary 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. Program Resources are available online (includes forms needed, guidance, certifications etc.)

Who can answer questions?
Contact your local office.

What 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?

To provide financing to eligible Rural Utilities Service electric or telecommunications borrowers to promote rural economic development and job creation projects.

Program: Fact Sheet

Forms & Resources

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

You may also access the Code of Federal Regulations, 7 CFR, Part 4280.