USDA offers tech assistance grants to rural businesses
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the agency is seeking applications from organizations that will provide technical assistance to rural businesses, through the Rural Development’s Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) program.
“These grants will help businesses get access to planning, mentoring and other services that can help ensure their success,” Vilsack said. “This assistance will provide development and managerial services that often are not readily available to businesses in rural areas.”
José Otero-García, agency director in Puerto Rico said the RBOG fund has up to $2.6 million available to offer maximum grants of $100,000.
Grants may be used for feasibility studies, strategic planning, leadership training and other types of business development activities. Eligible applicants include public bodies, non-profit corporations, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes and rural cooperatives.
In the past, the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez campus received an RBOG grant to provide technical assistance to identify and analyze the potential use of coffee industry waste in in bio products such as animal feed, biogas, fertilizer, etc.
USDA Rural Development is further interested in RBOG applications to support a new Obama administration initiative called Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership, intended to stimulate an environment for developing manufacturing jobs.
RBOG applicants, for example, could seek grants to help rural communities develop long-term strategic plans for their manufacturing sectors or to provide training to entrepreneurs who want to create manufacturing businesses in rural areas. Applicants who receive RBOG funding complementing the IMCP initiative may later be eligible for much larger grants directly through the initiative.
Some of the funding available under this RBOG notice will be made available for projects benefitting federally recognized Indian tribes and projects benefitting Rural Economic Area Partnerships. The remaining funds are open for national competition.
The application deadlines for Rural Business Opportunity Grants are June 30 for partnership funds and June 28 for all other requests. For additional information on how to apply, see the May 14 Federal Register, page 2814.