September 24, 2010
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday the availability of $6.2 million in grant funding through the USDA’s Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) for fiscal year 2011. The RCDI program funds non-profits and other qualifying organizations that provide financial and technical assistance to recipients in rural communities to develop their capacity and ability to undertake economic development, housing, and community facilities projects. This program includes a focus on projects that will help develop and build strong regional economies.
Secretary Vilsack also announced the recipients of the USDA’s 2010 Rural Business Opportunity Grants, which support regional planning activities to improve economic conditions in rural areas, including but not limited to regional food system development.
Four of the new RBOG awards pertained to local and regional food, including the California Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, which received a $250,000 award to develop a regional food system, add value to livestock processing and marketing, utilize biomass, and develop renewable energy and agricultural resources. We will report on the others in a future post.
“Helping communities come together to address their needs regionally and collaboratively will mean a more efficient use of scarce federal resources,” Vilsack said during a speech at a Brookings Institution conference on regional innovation. “As we seek to use existing resources more effectively, regionally focused economic development efforts will take advantage of locally-identified strengths to create jobs and help businesses expand in America’s rural communities.”
RCDI grant funds may be used for the purchase of computers, software, training for capacity building in housing, community facilities, and microenterprise programs. Grant amounts are between $50,000-$300,000 and require matching funds. Priority will be given to projects related to energy efficiency and renewable energy development and to those that show regional cooperation.
The application deadline is 4 p.m. local time, December 22, 2010. Applications can be found here and can be submitted at www.grants.gov.