WASHINGTON, May 20, 2015 – USDA released a new Regional Development Priority (RDP) policy Wednesday that details how the agency will support rural economic development by providing loans to small businesses and grants for community infrastructure improvements.

"Regional planning maximizes the effectiveness of our investments in rural America," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said while announcing the policy in Memphis, Tennessee. "When communities come together to share resources, ideas and expertise, they can develop a cohesive economy strategy and invest in their future.”

The RDP will help the USDA prioritize grant and loan funding in rural communities with “multi-jurisdictional economic development plans” and make it easier for rural communities to access resources for community investments, the agency said in a release. Financial support will go toward infrastructure, business and community development needs through four programs: 

-       - Community Facilities Program

-       - Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program

-       - Water and Environmental Program and

-       - Rural Business Development Grant Program

Applications for priority funding should identify locally-developed needs and growth strategies and will be judged on how well the strategy supports a region's existing development plan and how well it addresses regional collaboration and leverages non-federal funding sources.

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Vilsack made the announcement during the 10th Annual Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Conference, which set the stage for world policy leaders from 34 countries to discuss how modern policies can help rural regions reach their full economic potential, support national growth and be globally competitive.


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