USDA Resources and Opportunities
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has unveiled the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program which is intended to help rural communities create good-paying jobs and support new business opportunities in high-growth fields. RISE provides grants of up to $2 million to consortiums of local governments, investors, industry, institutions of higher education, and other public and private entities in rural areas. Funds may be used to form job accelerator partnerships and create high-wage jobs, start or expand businesses, support economic growth, and establish and operate innovation centers and partnerships. Applicants are encouraged to contact their nearest USDA Rural Development State Office ahead of the application deadline on August 2, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Applications are currently being accepted electronically via Grants.gov. For additional information about the program, click here. USDA will also be hosting a webinar on Tuesday June 22 at 11:30 a.m. ET to help stakeholders and potential applicants learn more about this funding opportunity. To register for the webinar, click here.
USDA has also recently unveiled a Resource Guide for Rural Workforce Development to help rural community leaders start and expand employment opportunities and access resources to train, recruit, and create a sustainable rural workforce. The resource guide outlines programs and services available at USDA and other federal agencies that support workforce development in rural communities and features examples of how customers have used USDA programs to support four key assistance types: workforce development planning; infrastructure and equipment financing; industry and employer engagement, entrepreneurship, and local business development; and education, training and apprenticeship. Access the resource guide here.
Finally, USDA is accepting applications for grants to help very small communities expand or improve water or waste disposal systems. Instead of providing grants directly to individuals, businesses, or communities, the Water and Wastewater Revolving Funds Program allows state and local government entities and private nonprofits to use the grants to establish lending programs to help expand or improve water and waste disposal systems in rural communities with a population of 10,000 or less. The revolving loan funds may provide individual loans of up to $200,000 for a maximum term of 10 years. The loans can be used for pre-development planning costs and for short-term or small capital improvement projects that are not part of the regular operation and maintenance of the water or waste system. Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov no later than 9:00 p.m. PT on July 16, 2021. o later than 9:00 p.m. PT on July 16, 2021.