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U. S. Department of Agriculture - Rural Development

Program Description


The United States Department of Agriculture is in a key position to support activities critical to community brownfields revitalization efforts. The Rural Development office operates three types of programs: Business and Cooperative Programs, Housing Programs and Utilities Programs. Efforts in the first two areas are most suited to meet the challenges of rural brownfields. Although the Rural Development office does not have any brownfields-specific programs, the assistance it provides can be applied to brownfields-related activities.

Brownfields Connections


Financial Assistance

Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program

Provides funding and technical assistance to community-led environmental projects. The Forest Service has selected 13 areas (listed below) where the URP has been established. The URP works closely with community development corporations as a mechanism to make its resources available.

Eligibility Requirements: Eligible entities include: cooperatives, corporations, partnerships, trusts or other profit or nonprofit entities; Indian tribes; and municipalities, counties or other local governments.

Availability: The maximum loan size is $40,000,000


Website: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/b&i_gar.htm

Intermediary Relending Program (IRP)

This program capitalizes locally run revolving loan funds for small businesses not able to secure adequate bank financing on their own. Like the B&I program, resources from the IRP can be used for real estate and equipment purposes.

Eligibility Requirements: Intermediaries may be private nonprofit corporations, public agencies, Indian tribes or cooperatives.

Availability: Loans to intermediaries are scheduled for repayment over a period of 30 years. The interest rate on loans to intermediaries is one percent per annum.

Uses/Applications (all apply to loans from intermediaries to ultimate recipients):

Website: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/irp.htm

The Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) Program

The RBOG program promotes sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. This program may be particularly helpful as grants may be made for the identification and analysis of business opportunities; the establishment of support centers to assist with the creation of new rural businesses; to conduct regional, community and local economic development planning; and other related training, planning and coordination efforts.

Eligibility Requirements: Eligible entities include: a public body, nonprofit corporation, Indian tribe or cooperative that has expertise in the activities proposed. The project must demonstrate that the funding will result in economic development. The project must have performance measures.

Availability: Priority points for funding are awarded to projects that have sustainability and quality of the economic activity expected; leveraging of other funds; economic conditions in the service area; and usefulness as a new best practice.

Uses/Applications (all apply to loans from intermediaries to ultimate recipients):

Website: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_RBOG.html

The Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) Program

The RBEG program provides grants to public bodies and private nonprofit corporations for projects designed to finance and facilitate the development of small and emerging private for-profit or nonprofit small businesses. RBEG grants may include funding for infrastructure items such as access to streets and roads, utility extensions, water supply and waste disposal facilities and so forth. In addition, RBEG grants may be utilized for the acquisition of land, buildings, plants, equipment, parking areas and technical assistance regarding transportation services.

Eligibility Requirements: Nonprofits, local governments, states and tribes. The small and emerging businesses to be assisted must have fewer than 50 new employees and less than $1,000,000 in revenue.

Website: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/busp/rbeg.htm

The Rural Economic Development Loan Program

This program provides funds to intermediaries that have or have had a borrowing relationship with the Rural Utility Service (RUS). Intermediaries may receive zero-interest loans which are passed through to rural small businesses for the purpose of assisting business and creating new jobs or retaining existing jobs.


Rural Economic Development Grant Program

This program provides grant funds to intermediaries to establish revolving loan funds for use in making loans to rural small businesses for the creation and retention of viable jobs in rural areas.


Cape Charles, Virginia

An abandoned, 25-acre dump that once lay at the heart of a 200-acre property in Cape Charles, Virginia, has been developed into an eco-industrial park. Created by Northampton County and the Town of Cape Charles, the Sustainable Technology Park incorporates natural habitat protection into an overall eco-industrial park. The county is designated a rural Enterprise Community by USDA. The Enterprise Communities program provides new opportunities for growth and revitalization through coordinating economic, physical, environmental, community and human development efforts. USDA awarded a $750,000 Rural Business Enterprise grant to fund infrastructure improvements on the property. The site is a national eco-industrial park demonstration project and showcases advanced facilities in resource efficiency and pollution prevention.

Community Facilities Program: Guaranteed Loans, Direct Loans and Grants

The guarantee portion of this program provides an incentive for commercial lending that will develop essential community facilities. The direct loan program does the same thing, except that USDA functions as the lender. In either case, the loans can run for up to 40 years or for the useful life of the facility (if less than that). In the case of distressed rural communities that cannot qualify for a private or USDA loan for essential community facilities, USDA Rural Development can make grants.

Water and Waste Disposal Loans, Loan Guarantees, and Grants

USDA Rural Development offers several programs aimed at developing and repairing water, sewer, storm drainage and solid waste systems in rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less. These programs can be used to support industrial development activities.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program (REEEP)

This program has up to $22,800,000 in competitive grant funds available for fiscal year 2005 to purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements for agricultural producers and rural small businesses in order to reduce energy costs and consumption.

Website: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_redlg.html

Additional Information

Georg Shultz, Special Assistant Deputy Administrator
Business Programs

Main Website: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov

State Contacts: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/recd_map.html

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization

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