USDA seeks applications for loans and grants


WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced recently that the United States Departent of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for loans and grants to support business expansion, create jobs and increase economic opportunities in rural communities.

“Small businesses are the engine that drives job creation and investment capital coupled with business savvy provide the spark that gets that engine running,” Vilsack said. “This funding will help the nation’s rural microentrepreneurs strengthen their capacity to create jobs, grow their businesses and fuel the economy. USDA is working with local organizations to provide capital to help small business owners achieve higher performance.”

Funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). The 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized the program through 2018. For Fiscal Year 2015, more than $16 million is available in loans and grants.

Details about how to apply for this are on page 35299 of the June 19 Federal Register. Application forms may be obtained from any USDA Rural Development State Office.

RMAP provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) to help microentrepreneurs – very small businesses with 10 or fewer employees – access capital to start or grow businesses. MDOs use the funds to provide training and technical assistance to small businesses or to establish revolving loan funds that provide micro-loans, typically $5,000 to $50,000, to rural microentrepreneurs.

Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, USDA Rural Development has invested $72.2 million in loans and grants through the RMAP program to support more than 390 projects that help very small business enterprises.

For example, in 2014, Rural Development awarded a $500,000 loan and a $105,000 grant to the Midcoast Council of Governments (MCOG) in Maine to capitalize a revolving loan fund. The fund provided technical assistance and training to rural microentrepreneurs and microenterprises.

MCOG services Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties, the towns of Brunswick and Harpswell in Cumberland County, and the towns of Belmont, Lincolnville, Northport and Searsmont in Waldo County. This project is expected to create 50 jobs, save 214 jobs and assist 234 businesses.

President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.

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