USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Provide Technical Assistance to Rural Businesses

TEMPLE May 14, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications from organizations that will provide technical assistance to rural businesses.  Funding will be provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) program with up to $2.6 million available offering maximum grants of $100,000.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy. 
“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.”
“USDA Rural Development’s mission is to provide assistance that will increase the economic conditions of rural communities,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director.  “By providing these grants, we promote sustainable economic development in rural communities and regions with exceptional needs.”
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 further interested in RBOG applications to support a new Obama administration initiative called Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP).  This initiative is intended to stimulate an environment for developing 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 much 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

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.


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