“The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency has announced the inception of a new program to fund technical assistance and planning activities for improving economic conditions in rural communities. The Rural Business Opportunity Grant Program is designed to promote sustainable economic development in rural communities with exceptional needs. A rural area is defined by the USDA as a city with a population of 10,000 or less, according to the latest decennial census. Eligible applicants are public bodies, private non-profit corporations, federally recognized Indian Tribes and cooperatives with members that are primarily rural residents and conduct activities for the mutual benefit of the members. For-profit businesses are ineligible. RBOG funds may be used for, but are not limited to: identify and analyze business opportunities that will use local rural materials or human resources; identify, train and provide technical assistance for rural entrepreneurs; establish business support centers; conduct local community or multi-county economic development planning; establish centers for training, technology, and trade; or to conduct leadership development training. The emphasis for the program this year will be to fund regional planning for local governments and priority points will be assigned to the projects accordingly.Applications will be accepted until close of business February 29, 2000. Applications are selected through a nationwide competition. The amount available for the grants nationally is $1.5 million for Fiscal Year 2000. For details regarding the program or to obtain an application, please contact either the Olympia Area Office at 1835 Black Lake Blvd SW, Suite C, Olympia, WA 98512, 360-704-7760; or the Puyallup Area Office at 1011 East Main, Suite 306, Puyallup, WA 98372, 253-845-9272.”
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