North Carolina is home to a number of funding institutions supporting strategies necessary for economic growth. As a result of Golden LEAF’s strategic plan, one of the five strategic priorities is to have, and be recognized for, excellence in organizational collaboration, innovation, and impact. To help address this goal, a spotlight on North Carolina funders will be included in the Golden LEAF Newsletter at the beginning of each month as a resource for our readers.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. USDA Rural Development offers loans, grants, and loan guarantees to help create jobs and support economic development and essential services such as housing; health care; first responder services and equipment; and water, electric and communications infrastructure. It promotes economic development by supporting loans to businesses through banks, credit unions and community-managed lending pools. We offer technical assistance and information to help agricultural producers and cooperatives get started and improve the effectiveness of their operations. USDA Rural Development provides technical assistance to help communities undertake community empowerment programs. It helps rural residents buy or rent safe, affordable housing and make health and safety repairs to their homes.
The USDA is a department of the federal government and Rural Development is one of USDA’s agencies. In North Carolina, USDA Rural Development serves all of North Carolina’s rural counties.
Program: Economic Impact Initiative Grants
The Economic Impact Initiative Grants program provides grant funding to assist in the development of essential community facilities in rural communities with extreme unemployment and severe economic depression. An essential community facility is one that provides an essential service to the local community, is needed for the orderly development of the community, serves a primarily rural area, and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings. Grants are available for up to 75% of eligible project cost based on need and funding availability.
Program: Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program
The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides loan and grant funding for clean, reliable drinking water systems, wastewater and solid waste treatment systems, and storm water drainage systems to homes and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or fewer.
Program: Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants
RISE grants help build business incubators and provide training to create jobs. This program encourages a region to leverage existing community assets by establishing and operating job development and training innovation centers. RISE also supports new or improved broadband service for use by job accelerators. These competitively awarded grants range from $500,000 – $2 million.
Program: Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge
USDA is making available up to $4 million in cooperative agreement funds under the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) for eligible entities to help provide planning support, technical assistance and training to foster placemaking activities in rural communities. Qualified entities can use the funds to help rural communities create plans to enhance capacity for broadband access; preserve cultural and historic structures; and support the development of transportation, housing, and recreational spaces.
Program: Rural Economic Development Loans (REDL) and Grants (REDG)
REDLGs offer zero-interest loans to qualified local utilities. In turn, the utilities pass the loans through to local businesses for use in projects that create and keep employment in rural areas. In the REDG program, local utilities use grants to establish revolving loan funds to support projects that create or save rural jobs. Intermediaries can use funds to lend for projects in rural areas or towns with populations of fewer than 50,000. Eligible recipients include Former Rural Utilities Service borrowers who prepaid or repaid an insured, direct or guaranteed loan. Nonprofit utilities eligible to receive assistance from Rural Development Electric or Telecommunication Programs.
For more information about USDA Rural Development, visit here for general information, here for information about its programs, here for press releases, or the USDA and EDA – Stronger Together Federal Funding and Planning and Resource guide found here.