WASHINGTON, June 15, 2015 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is accepting applications for grants to help rural cooperatives develop new markets for their products and services. USDA is making the grants available to non-profit corporations and institutions of higher education through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program.
"Cooperative organizations are important catalysts for economic growth and job creation in rural America," Vilsack said. "The lack of investment capital is often the key factor holding many rural areas back from economic prosperity. The investments that USDA is making available will help organizations start cooperatives, expand existing ones, boost sales and marketing opportunities, and help develop business opportunities in rural areas."
USDA's Rural Cooperative Development Grant program improves economic conditions in rural areas by helping individuals and businesses start, expand or improve the operations of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through cooperative development centers. Other eligible grant activities may include conducting feasibility studies and creating business plans.
USDA is making up to $5.8 million in grants available in Fiscal Year 2015. One-year grants up to $200,000 are available. In most cases, grants may be used to pay for up to 75 percent of a project's total costs. Recipients are required to match 25 percent of the award amount. The grants will be awarded prior to September 30, 2015. The recipients will have one year to utilize the awarded funds.
Earlier Rural Cooperative Development Grant funding from USDA helped to reopen a local Nebraska grocery store. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Cooperative Development Center (NCDC) used funding from an RCDG grant to provide technical assistance in forming a cooperative business that re-opened the only grocery store in the small town of Elwood, Nebraska. Community members formed a 10-member steering committee and worked with NCDC on business and finance issues and incorporation options as a cooperative. The cooperative was incorporated in May 2012 as the Elwood Hometown Cooperative Market and opened in February 2013. The Elwood Market keeps its vital place in the community thanks to support from USDA.
President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way - strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
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