May 15, 2013
USDA has issued a notice that the Rural Development Agency is taking applications for Rural Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG). RBOG funds feasibility studies, strategic planning, leadership training and other services and activities that can foster the creation of businesses and jobs in rural areas. Eligible applicants include public entities, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, Indian tribes and rural cooperatives with members that are primarily rural residents.
A proposed RBOG project must ultimately benefit individuals residing in a rural area or businesses located in a rural area. The maximum grant award is $100,000. Up to $2.6 million will be available for RBOG projects, with $919,820 reserved for project applications benefiting federally recognized Indian tribes and $790,303 reserved project applications for Rural Economic Area Projects until June 30, 2013.
No matching funds are required for RBOG grants. Paper applications must be postmarked and mailed, shipped or sent overnight no later than June 28, 2013. Electronic applications must be received by USDA no later than midnight June 24, 2013.
Organizations and institutions that are interested in applying for the grants should check out the notice for application as soon as possible. Applicants must register with the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM) and obtain a number from the Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS). Contact information for these Systems is provided in the RBOG notice, along with other details about preparing and submitting a grant application.
As illustrated in an NSAC blog describing 2012 RBOG grants awards, RBOG funding can be used for projects that help develop local food markets and provide assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers.
In addition to providing funds for traditional RBOG grants, USDA’s Rural Development Agency has chosen to use the RBOG program to initiate the first phase of a multi-agency “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” (IMCP) initiative, which is intended to accelerate a resurgence of manufacturing and create jobs across the country. The first phase of the IMCP provides up to $100,000 in RBOG funding for projects targeted to regional development strategies to attract, retain and expand investment and spur international trade and exports. These initial projects focus on collaboration at the local level that identifies a region’s comparative advantages and assets, with a plan for investments that appeal to manufacturers. These grants can be used to help communities prepare for the second phase of the initiative, IMPC “Challenge” grants. More information on USDA’s role in the IMCP initiative is provided in a May 9 press release.