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  • Writer's pictureKristin Cooper

USDA Launches Grant Program to Help Expand Regional Economies and Create High-Wage Jobs

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Karama Neal today unveiled a new grant program to help rural communities create good-paying jobs and support new business opportunities in high-growth fields.

Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) is intended to help rural communities identify and maximize local assets and connect to networks and industry clusters within their region. The new grant encourages a regional, innovation-driven approach to economic development.

“USDA is innovating the way we do business,” Neal said. “The RISE program ensures that critical funding supports long-term and sustainable economic growth in the rural communities and regions that need it most.”

RISE provides grants of up to $2 million to consortiums of local governments, investors, industry, institutions of higher education, and other public and private entities in rural areas. The funds may be used to form job accelerator partnerships and create high-wage jobs, start or expand businesses, and support economic growth in the rural areas of their region.

Funding may also be used to establish and operate innovation centers and partnerships, such as integrating rural businesses into new supply chains, providing workforce training and identifying community assets.

To help ensure long-term and sustainable community and economic development, award recipients must support projects for at least four years.

What does this program do?

The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program offers grant assistance to create and augment high-wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses, support industry clusters and maximize the use of local productive assets in eligible low-income rural areas.

Who may apply?

Eligible applicants are rural jobs accelerator partnerships with expertise in delivering economic and job training programs, consisting of the following:

  • Non-profit entities

  • State entities

  • Tribal entities

  • Institutions of higher education

  • Public bodies

How may funds be used?

  • RISE grant funds can be used to:

  • Build or support a business incubator facility

  • Provide worker training to assist in the creation of new jobs

  • Train the existing workforce with skills for higher-paying jobs

  • Develop a base of skilled workers and improve their opportunities to obtain high-wage jobs in new or existing local industries

What is an eligible area?

The RISE project must serve a rural region small enough to allow close collaboration among partners. It also must include important elements of the region’s prioritized industry cluster (concentrations of related industries).

The RBCS Administrator may award points to applications from distressed communities with high concentrations of employment in coal, oil and gas industries, and coal-fired generation facilities transitioning away from fossil fueled energy production. A list of qualifying communities – which includes both county and zip code – is provided for applicants to determine if they may qualify for the points. The Administrator also may award points to an application to help ensure uniform geographic distribution across a maximum number of states, and to promote diversity among targeted industries.

What is the maximum amount of a grant?

Grant amounts are awarded competitively with a minimum of $500,000 and a maximum grant amount of $2,000,000.

What are the terms of the grant?

The grant term is 4 years.

How do I apply?

Interested applicants are encouraged to review the materials, including application deadlines, found in the Notice of Funding Availability. Applications are submitted through

What governs this program?

The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program is enacted as part of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-34) (2018 Farm Bill) Regulation 4280. The program is governed by Regulation 7 CFR Part 4284, Subpart L.

Why does USDA Rural Development do this?

The RISE Grant Program meets a recognized need for federal support of jobs accelerator partnerships for the promotion of private investment in regional economies. The flexible use of funds by RISE grant recipients allows a region to leverage their community assets by assisting new and existing industry, establish and operate innovation centers for job development and training, including through the use of new or improved broadband service by jobs accelerators. The RISE program will improve the ability of rural communities to create high-wage jobs, accelerate the formation of rural businesses, and strengthen regional economies.

USDA is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time to help stakeholders and potential applicants learn more about this funding opportunity. To register, please visit:

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