(Washington, D.C.) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers today announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants to provide assistance to socially-disadvantaged business groups in rural areas.
“Rural America is an incredibly diverse place with many types of businesses and business owners participating in the economy,” Rikkers said. “This funding will give small, rural businesses the technical assistance they need to compete in the global marketplace.”
The funding is being provided through the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG) program. USDA provides grants to local cooperatives and other organizations that provide technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance include providing leadership training, conducting feasibility studies and developing business and strategic plans.
Recipients eligible for these grants include groups of cooperatives, individual cooperatives and cooperative development centers that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or development centers can be based in any area, but the groups that receive technical assistance must be located in an eligible rural area. USDA is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher.
USDA is making $3 million in grants available. The maximum award a recipient may receive is $175,000. All grants are awarded through a national competition. More information on how to apply can be found on page 36254 of the June 6, 2016 Federal Register. Applications must be submitted by August 5, 2016, or electronically by August 1, 2016.
USDA awarded 126 grants totaling $19.5 million through the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant program between 2009 and 2015.
Past recipients of these grants have been able to make life-changing improvements in rural areas. For example, in 2013, the Southern California Focus on Cooperation received a $200,000 SDGG grant to provide technical assistance to 95 immigrant and minority farmers. The technical assistance helped the farmers improve their productive capacity, helped them better manage their cooperative business and increased their revenue. Many of the farmers helped by this project had spent years suffering from persecution and oppression and had had no access to formal schooling in their native lands.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; financed 185,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.