U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications for grants to help rural businesses create jobs and spur economic development. USDA Rural Development plans to award up to $8.6 million through the Rural Community Development Initiative program. Applications are sought for projects that:

• Provide technical assistance to improve the capacity of local organizations to complete successful housing, economic development and community facilities projects. • Help recipients complete pre-development requirements – such as architectural and engineering plans.
• Help development organizations improve their board operations, management and knowledge of financial and information technology systems.
• Provide homeownership education or training for entrepreneurs.

Part of the RCDI funds to be awarded may be used for projects associated with the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, which was announced March 8.
The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is May 9. Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant’s headquarters are located. A list of these offices is available on the USDA Rural Development website. For more information, see the March 21 Federal Register.

The deadline to apply for RCDI funding for Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator projects is May 9, 2012. For more information on how to apply, visit Grants.gov. Applications for Jobs Accelerator projects must be submitted to both USDA and the EDA.