Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Monday that USDA is seeking applications for loans and grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development. The funding is being provided under the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program.
"Boosting access to capital sparks job creation and revitalizes the rural economy," said Vilsack. "USDA works in partnership with cooperatives and utilities across America, and we intend to utilize this program to leverage federal and private investments to put rural residents to work."
Eligible recipients are USDA rural utilities program borrowers. Those recipients pass the funds to local organizations. The funding is leveraged to create projects that retain or create jobs and upgrade public infrastructure. The maximum amount of funding for any one project is $1 million for loans and $300,000 for grants.
Organizations use REDLG funds to create jobs and improve services. For example, the Utilities District of Western Indiana received a REDLG loan and grant in 2011 to construct an elevated water storage tank and supply lines. The project will serve a technology park and two communities, creating nearly 400 jobs.
USDA plans to award up to $79 million in loan and $10 million in grants through the program. The deadline for submitting applications is the last business day of each month through September 30th of 2012. Applications must be submitted to the Rural Development state office where the project will be located. A list of these offices is available on the USDA Rural Development web site, www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html, or on page 12792 of the March 2 Federal Register, www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-02/pdf/2012-5043.pdf.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.