USDA funding to provide technical assistance to help rural businesses grow
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications from qualified organizations to provide technical assistance to rural businesses to help them expand and create jobs.
The announcement was one part of the department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
An example of past awards in Nebraska is the 2012 USDA Rural Development award of a $135,200 Rural Business Opportunity Grant to the Nebraska Indian Community College of Macy, Neb. The grant provided entrepreneurial leadership education and training to students for job development in Thurston and Knox counties by creating a program that can be offered as part of the college’s regularly offered college courses. Six jobs will be created in the two counties.
“These grants will help businesses get access to planning, mentoring and other services that can help ensure their success,” Vilsack said. “This assistance will provide development and managerial services that often are not readily available to businesses in rural areas, part of the Obama administration’s effort to accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country.”
Funding will be provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Opportunity Grant program. Up to $2.6 million is available through this notice. The maximum grant is $100,000.
Grants may be used for feasibility studies, strategic planning, leadership training and other types of business development activities. Eligible applicants include public bodies, non-profit corporations, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes and rural cooperatives.
USDA Rural Development is also soliciting RBOG applications to support a new Barack Obama administration initiative called Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. USDA is partnering with the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration and Environmental Protection Agency to promote development of new manufacturing jobs. RBOG applicants, for example, could seek grants to help rural communities develop long-term strategic plans for their manufacturing sectors or to provide training to entrepreneurs who want to create manufacturing businesses in rural areas. Applicants who receive RBOG funding complementing the IMCP initiative may later be eligible for larger grants directly through the initiative.
Some of the funding available under this RBOG notice will be made available for projects benefitting federally recognized Indian tribes and projects benefitting Rural Economic Area Partnerships. The remaining funds are open for national competition.
The RBOG program and other USDA business and cooperate development programs have had a significant impact on rural communities. In 2012 alone, they helped almost 10,000 rural small business owners or farmers improve their enterprises. Business and cooperative program funding created or saved an estimated 53,000 rural jobs in 2012.
The application deadlines for Rural Business Opportunity Grants are June 30 for partnership funds and June 28 for all other requests. For additional information on how to apply, see the May 14 Federal Register, page 28184, or visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-05-14/html/2013-11451.htm.
For information on the RBOG program in Nebraska contact: Marla Marx, firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-632-2195, ext. 1132 (panhandle and southwest counties); Kelley Messenger, email@example.com or 308-237-3118, ext. 1120 (north and south central counties); and Bill Sheppard, firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-371-5350, ext. 1004 (northeast and southeast counties).