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News Release

Release No. 0344.10
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384

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USDA Seeks Applicants for Grants to Assist Rural Cooperatives and Businesses to Spur Job Creation

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting grant applications to assist rural businesses and create job opportunities through cooperative development centers.

"Cooperative development centers create jobs by providing rural businesses owners with technical and managerial skills to improve their operations," Vilsack said. "The Obama Administration is working to create a path of opportunity for all hard-working Americans to enter the middle class, and strengthen small and mid-sized communities. These centers further that effort."

Grants of up to $225,000 may be awarded to colleges, universities, and non-profit groups to create and operate centers that help individuals or groups establish, expand or operate rural businesses, especially cooperatives. The centers promote President Obama's goal to bring increased economic opportunities to rural residents by allowing them to acquire tools to help their businesses grow. Cooperative program grants can be used, among other things, to conduct feasibility studies, create and implement business plans, and help businesses develop new markets for their products and services.

In September 2009, for example, USDA Rural Development awarded a $200,200 grant to the California Center for Cooperative Development (CCCD) in Davis to assist a variety of local businesses. CCCD worked with an olive oil cooperative in northern California and assisted with an education program to promote homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income households. It also provided technical assistance to retain sugar beet biofuel processing jobs; conducted a feasibility study for a meat goat marketing cooperative in northern California, and provided technical assistance to dairy co-ops throughout the state.

USDA may award up to $7.9 million in grants through this notice of funding availability. Grants may finance up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing and operating the cooperative centers. Recipients must match 25 percent of the total project cost. Applications are due August 9, 2010. The application guide for this grant program can be found at For more information, please see the June 25, 2010 Federal Register at

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $138 billion in loans and loan guarantees.


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