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Vilsack Announces Funding for Rural Micro-Enterprise Programs

November 10, 2011

On November 9th, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of 35 rural micro-development organizations in 22 states to receive loans and grants to support rural business development, create jobs, and strengthen local communities.

“These investments will bring increased economic opportunity to rural residents and communities,” said Vilsack. “They will help organizations expand job and economic opportunities in rural communities across the nation.”

The funding is being administered through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP).  This program funds development organizations that make loans to microenterprises and microentreprenuers and provide business-based training and technical assistance to rural micro-borrowers are eligible to receive support.  Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan and grant agreement.

RMAP has received both mandatory farm bill funding during the 2008 Farm Bill cycle and discretionary funding through the annual agricultural appropriations bill.  The pending agricultural appropriations bill for FY 2012, however, has zero funding for the program in the House-passed bill and no additional appropriated dollars above the $3 million in farm bill mandatory funding in the Senate-passed bill.  A final House-Senate bill is expected to be voted on next week.

Funding for RMAP is also an issue in the new farm bill being drafted for consideration by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction next week.  It is not yet clear how much mandatory funding RMAP will receive during the next five-year farm bill cycle.

Several of the micro-development organizations that were selected to receive FY 2011 funding include:

  • The Minority Economic Development Initiative of Western Kentucky: $40,000 grant to provide education, guidance to microentreprenuers and microenterprises for business start up and expansion activities in 32 counties in Kentucky
  • Community Concepts Finance Corporation: $500,000 loan; $105,000 grant to capitalize a rural microloan revolving loan fund to make loans to rural microentreprenuers in Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford, Piscataquis and Somerset counties of Maine
  • Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center: $500,000 loan; $105,000 grant to make small business loans for small and emerging companies located in six counties in Maryland
  • Northwest Minnesota Foundation: $150,000 loan; $37,500 grant to assist small businesses in a 12 county area of northwestern Minnesota with start-up or expansion
  • Minority Capital Fund of Mississippi, Inc.: $27,750 grant to provide technical assistance and training to rural microentreprenuers in nine rural areas in the Jackson region of Mississippi
  • Native American Development Corporation: $187,500 loan; $46,875 grant to capitalize a rural microloan revolving loan fund to make loans to rural microentreprenuers and microenterprises and to provide technical assistance to existing and emerging businesses located on Tribal lands in Montana
  • Council on the Environment, Inc., dba Grow NYC: $40,000 to provide training that focuses on growing agriculture businesses around regional grain producers in New York state
  • Enterprise for Equity: $250,000 loan; $62,500 grant to capitalize a rural microloan revolving fund to make loans to rural microentreprenuers and microenterprises in Washington state

To see the full listing of RMAP funding recipients, please visit the USDA press release of the announcement.

Categories: Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Rural Development

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