Applications are being accepted though April 1st for the USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) program. The program is available to public bodies, nonprofits and Indian tribes to finance development of small and emerging private businesses in communities of up to 50,000 in population. Terry Brunner, State Director for USDA Rural Development in NM said, “The RBEG program helps the community make investments in activities that will ultimately create jobs, increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life.”

Grant funds may finance any private business that will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 million in projected gross revenues. The funds can also be used as a revolving loan, and can pay for technical assistance or for purchasing real or personal property to be leased to the business. Technical assistance could provide money for feasibility studies, business plans, business development training or workshops.

Applications will be selected based on an established competitive scoring process. Priority will be given to requests of $50,000 or less. Eligible initial applications will receive points for projects in the following categories:

• Renewable energy

• Local food systems and value-added agriculture

• Great regions: multi-county or multi-state projects that will establish best practices in the area of regional economic and community development

• Support of cooperatives

• Business programs in persistent poverty counties including: Catron, Cibola, Dona Ana, Guadalupe, Luna, McKinley, Mora, Rio Arriba, Roosevelt, San Juan, San Miguel, Socorro, and Taos.

• Underserved populations such as minority and women-owned businesses

More information can be obtained from the State Office in Albuquerque at 505.761.4953 or visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_rbeg.html.