How to Apply for a Rural Business Development Grant

Are you a rural entrepreneur looking for funding to start or grow your business? Do you have a project idea that can benefit your community and create jobs? If so, you may be eligible for a Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Rural Business Development Grant
RBDG is a competitive grant program that supports targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas.

 

What is a Rural Business Development Grant?

RBDG is a competitive grant program that supports targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas.

The program aims to improve the quality of life in rural communities by enhancing economic opportunities and ensuring self-sustainability for generations to come.

Who can apply for the Rural Business Development Grant?

RBDG grants may be made to a public body or government entity, an Indian tribe, or a nonprofit entity primarily serving rural areas. The applicants must have the legal authority and capacity to carry out the proposed project and meet the grant obligations.

What are the eligible areas for the Rural Business Development Grant?

RBDG funds must be used for projects that benefit rural areas or towns outside the urbanized periphery of any city with a population of 50,000 or more.

You can check the eligibility of your area using the USDA address verification tool.

What are the eligible uses of Rural Business Development Grant funds?

RBDG funds can be used for a variety of purposes, such as:

An inforgraphic illustrating What are the eligible uses of Rural Business Development Grant funds?
Are you a rural entrepreneur looking for funding to start or grow your business?
  • Training and technical assistance, such as project planning, business counseling and training, market research, feasibility studies, professional or technical reports, or producer service improvements.
  • Acquisition or development of land, easements, or rights of way; construction, conversion, and renovation of buildings; plants, machinery, and equipment, access for streets and roads; parking areas and utilities
  • Pollution control and abatement.
  • The capitalization of revolving loan funds, including funds that will make loans for start-ups and working capital.
  • Rural distance learning for job training and advancement for adult students.

What are the funding limits and requirements for RBDG?

There is no maximum grant amount for RBDG; however, smaller requests are given higher priority.

There is no cost-sharing requirement for RBDG. However, applicants are encouraged to leverage other sources of funding to increase the impact and sustainability of the project.

There are two types of RBDG projects: opportunity grants and enterprise grants. Opportunity-type grants are limited to up to 10 percent of the total RBDG annual funding and can be used for projects that benefit communities or regions.

Enterprise-type grants must therefore be used on projects to benefit small and emerging businesses in rural areas, as specified in the grant application.

How do I apply for RBDG?

The application process for RBDG varies depending on the state where the project is located. You can find the state-specific information, such as the application deadline, the contact person, and the application forms, on the USDA website.

The application package must include the following documents:

  • A cover letter that summarizes the project and the amount of funding requested
  • A completed SF-424, Application for Federal Assistance
  • A completed SF-424A, Budget Information
  • A completed SF-424B, Assurances
  • A project narrative that describes the project purpose, need, objectives, activities, outcomes, budget, and evaluation plan
  • A statement of experience that demonstrates the applicant’s ability and history of completing similar projects
  • A statement of support that shows the project’s alignment with local and regional economic development plans and priorities
  • A statement of financial feasibility that shows the project’s viability and sustainability
  • A statement of environmental impact that identifies and addresses any potential environmental issues or concerns
  • Any other relevant attachments, such as letters of commitment, resumes, maps, photos, etc.

What are the evaluation criteria for RBDG?

The RBDG applications are evaluated and scored by USDA staff based on the following criteria:

  • The economic need of the rural area where the project is located (25 points)
  • The alignment of the project with the USDA strategic goals and the RBDG program goals (25 points)
  • The quality and feasibility of the project design and implementation plan (25 points)
  • The experience and capacity of the applicant and the project partners (15 points)
  • The availability and commitment of other sources of funding for the project (10 points)

Where can I find more information and assistance for RBDG?

If you have any questions or need any assistance with your RBDG application, you can contact the USDA Rural Development State Office for the state where your project is located. Moreover, You can find the contact information on the USDA website.

You can also visit the USDA Rural Development Business Programs] to learn more about other funding opportunities and resources for rural businesses.

RBDG is a great opportunity for rural entrepreneurs and communities to access funding and support for their business and economic development projects. So, if you have a project idea that can benefit your rural area, don’t hesitate to apply for RBDG and make it happen!

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