Washington, DC - Rural Business Cooperative-Service Administrator Sam Rikkers announced Tuesday the USDA is seeking applications for loans and grants to help support the start-up or expansion of rural businesses.
"Our small, rural businesses need financing to compete in the global economy," Rikkers said. "With this announcement, USDA is demonstrating its continued commitment to investing in small towns and rural communities. These loans and grants will spur entrepreneurship, create jobs and improve the quality of life in rural America."
The funding is being provided through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Under this program, USDA provides zero-interest loans and grants to local utilities, which use the funding to create revolving funds for projects that will create or retain jobs in rural areas.
USDA is making $37 million in loans and $11 million in grants available. A recipient may receive a loan of up to $1 million, or a grant of up to $300,000.
Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $330 million in loans and grants through the REDLG program.
In 2015, Aiken Technical College in Graniteville, S.C., received a $1 million loan to build a facility to provide training in advanced manufacturing. The 35,000-square-foot facility, called the Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing, or CEAM, will help the college's students graduate with degrees in technically advanced fields of study.
The REDLG program has also been successful in StrikeForce counties. The StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative is part of the Obama Administration's commitment to address persistent poverty across America. As areas of persistent poverty are identified, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs and help build program participation through intensive community outreach and technical assistance. In 2015, the South Mississippi Electric Power Association used part of a $2 million REDLG loan to help the city of Greenwood buy and renovate a building for the Milwaukee Tools company. Once completed, this project is expected to create more than 100 jobs in Lenore County, a designated StrikeForce area.
For information on how to apply for REDLG loans or grants, contact your Rural Development state office or see page 14415 of the March 17 Federal Register. The first round of applications is due March 31, 2016, and the second round of applications is due June 30, 2016.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his 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.