USDA Rural Development Acting Under Secretary Doug O'Brien last week announced the selection of 85 utilities and development organizations for loans and grants to support rural business activities that will boost economic growth in rural communities.
Funds are being provided through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program and the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. Under the REDLG program, USDA provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which then, in turn, relend the funds to local businesses for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.
The program funds business start-up or expansion, business incubators, education and training facilities and equipment, community development assistance, health care and other projects that support rural jobs.
Under RMAP, USDA provides loans to Microenterprise Development Organizations that, in turn, make microloans for business start-up or development to eligible microentrepreneurs defined as very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Grants are available for MDOs to provide technical assistance and training, particularly in rural areas experiencing persistent poverty or significant outmigration. USDA does not directly provide funds to the ultimate recipients.
"These USDA investments capitalize rural small businesses, which allows the owners to expand operations, enter into new markets and increase hiring," O'Brien said.
"The investments we are announcing today include financing to development organizations for microlending to very small rural businesses. Funds are also being provided to utilities to pass on to local businesses for development projects. These innovative programs increase economic opportunities in rural areas – a top priority of Secretary Vilsack and President Obama."
Read more about the program and the funding recipients on a USDA download.