USDA Announces Support for Rural Cooperative Businesses, Organizations

October 6, 2016 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced October 4, 2016 that USDA is awarding 29 grants totaling $5.8 million to help rural cooperatives create jobs and support business expansion. The funds are being provided through the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program, which helps fund non-profit groups, such as rural cooperative development centers and higher education institutions.
“America’s rural communities have incredible potential to create jobs and expand economic opportunities,” Vilsack said. “Many rural businesses and organizations are succeeding under the cooperative business model, and with access to additional resources, they can boost job creation and create an environment where more products are made in rural America. The funding USDA is announcing today will provide the critical training and technical assistance rural cooperatives and non-profit groups need to help strengthen America’s ‘Main Street’ businesses.”

Development centers can use RCDG funds for feasibility studies, strategic planning, leadership and operations training, and business plan development. Recipients are required to contribute matching funds that equal 25 percent of total project costs.

The Texas Rural Cooperative Center (TRCC) at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley is receiving a $199,393 grant to help start, expand and improve cooperatives and mutually-owned businesses in Texas and New Mexico. The Center is located in the South Texas city of Edinburg in Hidalgo County, one of the poorest in the United States. It serves a 33-county region that contains more than 1 million poor people and the largest number of impoverished rural colonias in the nation. The area receives additional assistance through USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiative. Through StrikeForce, USDA staff work with state, local and community officials to increase awareness of USDA programs and help build program participation through intensive community outreach and technical assistance.

“USDA Rural Development’s mission is to provide assistance that will increase the economic conditions of rural communities,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director.  “By providing a grant like this one for The University of Texas-Rio

Grande Valley, we increase the technical and educational assistance available to rural cooperatives and other business entities.”