Community Economic Development Program

Examples | How Does it Work? | Entrepreneurship Opportunities | News & Resources | Learn More

A program of the U.S. Health & Human Services Department and highlighted as a part of President Obama’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative, the Community Economic Development program provides grants to promote and support economic self-sufficiency for low-income communities through employment creation and business development.


  • Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma, Inc. (REI) is developing the REI Food Enterprise Development Center, a 2,500 square foot unique shared kitchen incubator facility designed to help rural southeast Oklahoma entrepreneurs start-up and expand their food related businesses. The Food Center (pictured right) will promote economic development by providing a stimulus for the local economies of the service area and creating jobs for low-income individuals leading to self-sufficiency. This $800,000 project will create at least 47 jobs.
  • Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation (MMCDC) will establish a new venture within Sungrown Foods. The project will lease a vacant cold storage facility in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and produce a new food product: sunflower butter and jelly thaw-and-serve sandwiches that will be sold as a part of Minnesota’s school lunch program. This $276,000 grant will benefit low-income residents through the creation of 25 full-time jobs.
  • In Hugo, Oklahoma, Little Dixie Community Action Agency proposed the Transit Expansion Program, an effort to expand transportation services to the underserved rural counties of Oklahoma by providing dependable transportation to low-income and elderly citizens. By expanding transit service via six new rural routes, this $400,000 project will create 20 new full-time jobs for low-income individuals.
  • In Chicago, Bethel New Life is helping to establish the Maypole and Pulaski Community Economic Development Project, which will include the construction of a 15,000 square foot commercial structure with adjacent parking and development of a neighborhood based "green" grocery store. BNL will create 35 new jobs for low-moderate income residents and will provide job placement and training services.
  • More examples here.

How Does It Work?

The Community Economic Development program is a competitive grant program, 40-45 grants are awarded annually with a maximum grant award level of $800,000. The program had $36 million in 2010. Grants are awarded to cover project costs for business start-up or expansion and the development of new products and services. The grants serve as catalysts for attracting additional private and public dollars. Types of projects funded include business incubators, shopping centers, manufacturing businesses and agriculture initiatives. Funded projects are to create new employment or business opportunities for low-income individuals.

People who should receive benefits from this program are low-income individuals that may be unemployed or receiving public assistance, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), at-risk youth, custodial and non-custodial parents, residents of public housing, persons with disabilities, persons who are homeless, and individuals transitioning from incarceration into the community.

The last application period closed on July 1, 2010.

Entrepreneurship Opportunities

If there is a community development corporation that serves your low-income community, this grant is a great way to get innovative entrepreneurial ideas off the ground. Here are some examples of eligible projects:

  • Business incubators
  • Direct development of important businesses such as grocery stores, recycling facilities or renewable energy enterprises
  • Community centers
  • Manufacturing businesses
  • Public markets
  • Child care centers
  • Business training centers


Private, non-profit community development corporations (CDCs) experienced in developing and managing economic development projects. The CDC must be governed by a board consisting of community residents and business and civic leaders and have as a principle purpose planning, developing, or managing low-income housing or community development projects. Faith-based and community organizations meeting the statutory eligibility requirements are eligible to apply.


Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a not-for-profit organization designed to provide programs, offer services and engage in other activities that promote and support community development. CDCs often focus on serving lower-income residents or struggling neighborhoods. They can be involved in a variety of activities including economic development, education, community organizing and real estate development.

News & Resources

Learn More

For more information on the Community Economic Development program, contact Steph Larsen at or call 402-687-2100