Nonprofit organizations and government agencies in rural communities have economic development funds at their fingertips through the Rural Business Development Grant program (RBDG) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program is designed to support job creation and economic development efforts of nonprofits and public entities, though small and emerging private businesses can access those funds for certain projects.
Eligible applicants include state and local governments, Indian tribes, nonprofits, and public and private nonprofit higher education institutions in communities with 50,000 or fewer residents. Eligible projects include job training, feasibility studies, land development, rural business incubators and more.
Grant funds can be spent on the development of any private business that employs 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in projected gross revenues. The law prohibits private businesses from receiving direct grants, but money can go to a nonprofit or government agency that sets up a revolving loan fund to lend money to a private business. There is no maximum level of grant funding, but requests for smaller amounts get top priority.