Washington, DC - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $5.8 million in grants and loans to support rural economic development projects and create jobs in 11 states through its Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) and Intermediary Relending Program (IRP).

"This funding will help small businesses access capital that they would not have had otherwise, generating new economic activity in rural communities," USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers said. "USDA is proud to support small, rural businesses so they can compete in the marketplace."

RMAP helps very small, rural businesses compete in the larger economy by giving microenterprises access to capital to grow their businesses. Nonprofit organizations, federally-recognized Tribes, public institutions of higher learning and businesses with 10 or fewer full-time employees are eligible to apply for RMAP. Projects must be in a rural area outside a city or town with a population of fewer than 50,000 residents, and funding may be used for working capital, debt refinancing and for purchasing equipment, supplies and real estate.

The following is a list of recipients that have been selected to receive RMAP grants and loans. The funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant or loan agreement.

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

  • AZ Yavapai Community College: $50,000 loan; $12,500 grant
  • HI Feed the Hunger Foundation: $500,000 loan
  • ME Sunrise County Economic Council: $500,000 loan; $100,000 grant
  • MI Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Housing & Community Development Corporation: $500,000 loan; $105,000 grant
  • NC Mountain BizCapital, Inc.: $500,000 loan
  • PA Rural Business Innovation Corporation: $100,000 loan; $25,000 grant
  • VT Northern Community Investment Corporation: $500,000 loan; $105,000 grant

IRP provides loans at a 1 percent interest rate to local intermediaries that relend to businesses in support of economic development projects. Nonprofit organizations, cooperatives, federally-recognized Tribes and public agencies are eligible to apply for this program. The ultimate recipients are individuals or public or private organizations in rural communities with populations of fewer than 50,000. Lenders must also be eligible to operate a revolving loan fund, have a record of successfully assisting rural businesses and communities and have the ability to repay the loan.

The following is a list of recipients that have been selected to receive IRP loans. The funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan agreement.

Intermediary Relending Program (loans only)

  • KY Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation: $1,000,000
  • MT Headwaters RC&D Area, Inc.: $750,000
  • NE Rural Investment Corporation: $210,350
  • NY The Delaware County LDC: $420,573
  • PA Titusville Redevelopment Authority: $500,000

USDA Rural Development has a strong track record of strengthening rural businesses and economies. In 2014, the agency approved a $500,000 RMAP loan and a $105,000 grant for the Midcoast Council of Governments in Maine, whose mission is to improve economic opportunity. To date, the project has created 26 jobs, saved 96 and assisted 23 businesses in the Midcoast Economic Development District region.