Rural Business Development Grants

Applications are currently being accepted for Rural Business Development Grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This program is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in gross revenue. Programmatic activities are separated into enterprise or opportunity type grant activities.

Who may apply for this program?

Rural public entities including, but not limited to:

  • Towns
  • Communities
  • State agencies
  • Authorities
  • Nonprofit corporations
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Federally-recognized Tribes
  • Rural cooperatives (If organized as a private nonprofit corporation)

The objective of the program is to develop small business in rural areas. This program provides grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate the development of small and emerging rural businesses, help fund distance learning networks, and help fund employment-related adult education programs. To assist with business development, RBDGs may fund a broad array of activities.

There are two grant lanes:

  1. Opportunity grants – Think of this is business development plan or study to expand business opportunity. Example might be the development of an intermodal terminal which would benefit a rural area.
  2. Enterprise grants – Think if this as technology transfer for small businesses in rural areas. This requires 5 small business letters of support. These company’s must employ 50 or fewer people and have gross revenue of $1 million or less. Example might include barge service transportation training for small businesses around a specific port or terminal – aimed at helping them improve loading processes or plain old transportation training on how to book services, work with vessel operators etc.

Applications are accepted through USDA Rural Development’s local or State offices once per year. Applicants are advised to view program information specific to your local or State office to learn about local application timelines, concept paper requirements, etc.

Applications are due March 31, 2018.