USDA Grants to Boost Rural Economy

USDAThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is still accepting applications from qualified non-profit and public organizations, or “intermediaries,” to provide loans to support rural businesses and community development groups. The USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) is intended to spark business expansion and create jobs. The loans assist with financing business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs in disadvantaged and remote communities.

The USDA says these groups are eligible to become intermediary lenders:

  • Private non-profit corporations.
  • Public agencies.
  • American Indian groups.
  • Cooperatives with at least 51 percent rural membership that aim to increase income for producer members or purchasing power for consumer members.

The IRP is the USDA Rural Development’s primary program for capitalizing revolving loan funds. The USDA lends money to economic development intermediaries who then approve commercial loans to rural businesses that might not otherwise be able to obtain such financing. When the commerical loans are repaid, the intermediary can loan money to new recipients.

In general, these groups are eligible to apply for IRP funding from intermediary lenders:

  • An entity that is able to incur debt, give security, and repay the loan.
  • A corporation, partnership, LLC, individual, non-profit corporation, or public body.
  • Individual U.S. citizens or individuals who have been legally admitted to the U.S.

IRP loan recipients must be located in a rural area. “Rural” is considered any area that is not inside a city with a population of 25,000 or more, according to the most recent census.

Examples of eligible projects:

  • Acquisition, construction, conversion, enlargement, or repair of a business or business facility, particularly when jobs will be created or retained.
  • Purchase or development of land (easements, rights of way, buildings, facilities, leases, materials).
  • Purchase of equipment, leasehold improvements, machinery, and supplies.
  • Start up costs and working capital.
  • Pollution control and abatement.
  • Transportation services.
  • Feasibility studies.
  • Hotels, motels, and convention centers.

Although IRP applications were due by June 28, the USDA says applications received after the deadline may still be eligible for funding in Fiscal Year 2013, depending on the availability of funds. They may also be considered for funds available in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2014. IRP applications can be found at every USDA Rural Development state office. Click here to access an interactive map that will bring you to your state’s USDA Rural Development webpage.

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