New USDA grant funds available for rural communities

Small Towns

By Nathan Beacom, former staff member

This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun accepting applications for two important programs for rural development.

The first is the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC), which has seen a $2 million increase in funding after its initial set of grants met with a great deal of enthusiasm. This program is available to tribal entities, non-profits, local governments, universities, and small businesses for the purpose of rural placemaking, which is a collaborative process to strategically improve the social, cultural, and economic structure of a community.

The second program, the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant, is available to nonprofit organizations, universities, tribal entities, and state and local governments. The goal is to support the growth of high-wage jobs through encouraging new business incubation, a high-skilled workforce, and opportunities for high-paying jobs. The grants can be from $500,000 to $2 million.

The Center has talked extensively with last year’s RPIC recipients, and they could not have been more positive about the program. It’s important for rural communities to strengthen the historical, natural, or cultural assets that make them unique, attractive places to live. This draws investment and vitality to the community. Likewise, the RISE program is designed to attract skilled workers and positions to rural areas. This is crucial as the rural economy changes.

Ultimately, these two programs go hand in hand in developing resilient rural communities. We encourage qualifying parties to visit the to apply.