The deadline is rapidly approaching for a program that could help finance new business to rural areas all across the country, including Nebraska. It is known as the USDA Rural Development’s Rural Micro Entrepreneur Assistance Program. Deborah (Debra) Drbal is the Business and Cooperative Specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture and says this funding is available to organizations that will oversee the distribution in the rural areas.
“The business itself, the entrepreneur is not the eligible applicant. The eligible applicant is what we call a Micro-Enterprise Development Organization, or an MDO. Those would be a non-profit entity, like a federally recognized Indian tribe or a public institute of higher education. They would be the applicant for the loan or the grant fund and they would use the funds in turn to provide assistance to the rural micro-enterprise or to the micro-entrepreneur.”
Drbal says once the MDO receives the funding, they may take applications from potential or existing small businesses. She says there are some guidelines.
“Of course the business would have to be located in a rural area. And, for micro, we are looking at businesses that have no more than 10 full time employees and are seeking a loan of not more than 50-thousand dollars. So, it could be a sole proprietorship or again, a business that would employee no more than 10 full time employment.”
Drbal says this is only eligible to communities with under 50-thousand residents.
“It could be a franchise, like a fast food restaurant but it could be a Mom and Pop. Whether it is a grocery store, hardware store, anything you would find in a rural community.”
The goal is to help rural communities to thrive.
Applications must be received by July 16th to qualify for this round of funding. The next application deadline is September 30th and it continues on a quarterly cycle. The total amount available is just over $45-million for 202 and of this, $over 36-million will be used for loans, over $7-million for micro-lender technical assistance grants and over $1 million for technical assistance grants. Contact the Department of Agriculture for details.