March 29th, 2010 Federal Register announced the availability of grants to fund projects designed to help rural communities create wealth, repopulate and become self-sustaining. Projects can receive up to $250,000 across a period of up to two years.
These Regional Business Opportunity Grants (RBOG) give preference to “Great Region” applications, or applications from multijurisdictional areas within a State, territory, or Federally-designated Tribal land or crossing such boundaries.
This regional approach could be considered a test run for the Regional Innovation Initiative (analysis here from AgriPulse) proposed in the USDA’s budget for FY 2011 which would create set-asides in a number of USDA programs for applications that are part of a comprehensive regional development plan.
Once selected, grantees may be provided with targeted technical assistance by the USDA or other federal agencies.
In addition to the focus on regional projects, the RFA also explicitly highlights programs which use one of 5 “USDA key strategies, ” for rural development, the first of which is “Local and regional food systems as a strategy for encouraging production agriculture and related industries in new wealth creation.”
This focus is directly compatible with the USDA’s continuing work on local and regional systems development through the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative.
Applications can be submitted to your state rural development office, or online through Grants.gov. For more specific information and for your state rural development office contact, click here to download the full Request for Applications.