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USDA calls on applicants for Rural Business Development Grant program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced it is now accepting applications for the Rural Business Development Grant program to advance economic development and create jobs.

The initiative seeks to support business ventures or projects in rural communities. Rural towns, communities, state agencies, authorities, nonprofits, federally recognized tribes, public colleges and nonprofit cooperatives are among the eligible for funding.

The grants can be used for various purposes such as establishing a business support center, financing job training courses, leadership development, repairing or modernizing buildings, conducting feasibility studies, preparing business plans, and purchasing equipment for leasing to small or emerging businesses, said Maximiliano J. Trujillo-Ortega, USDA Rural Development state director for Puerto Rico.

“It’s a great opportunity for Puerto Rico’s economic development and is 100% subsidized,” he said.

Projects must align with local community and economic development strategic plans and support other economic development activities in the community. 

In fiscal year 2024, the USDA anticipates that part of the funding may be set aside for:

  • Rural Empowerment Zones/Enterprise Communities/Rural Economic Area Partnerships.
  • Projects in persistent poverty areas.
  • Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) projects.

Applicants for the persistent poverty and SECD set-aside funds must demonstrate that 100% of the grant benefits will assist beneficiaries in the designated areas.

The department plans to call for applications in winter 2024 for set-aside funding to enhance the operation of rural transportation systems.

Applications should be submitted to the nearest USDA Rural Development state office where the project is located by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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