This FFO announces the availability of funding for the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (Rural Jobs Accelerator). The goal of the Rural Jobs Accelerator is to promote opportunities for accelerated job creation and community and economic development in rural regions through regional collaboration in numerous high-potential industry clusters, including renewable energy, food production, rural tourism, natural resources, and advanced manufacturing. Many rural regions either possess, or can be linked with, assets fundamental to the growth of existing high-potential industry clusters. The Rural Jobs Accelerator provides resources to support the development of clusters and to assist distressed rural communities in accelerating job creation by leveraging local assets, building stronger economies, and creating regional linkages. Approximately 20 regions will be selected through a merit-based interagency grant process.
The Primary Funding Agencies expect to jointly award a maximum of $715,000 per project. Applicants are required to provide matching funds, and apply for funding from both of the Primary Funding Agencies. USDA will target investments to support technical assistance to develop rural communities’ capacity and ability to undertake projects related to housing, community facilities, or economic and community development. EDA will target investments to support projects that create regional linkages by connecting communities with innovation clusters and regional opportunities leading to job creation, expanded markets, and economic growth.
The Regional Funding Partners expect to offer additional funds to projects located in their respective regions. ARC’s maximum grant amount per project will be $100,000. ARC funds may be used for projects that address gaps in a community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and promote the growth and competitiveness of an identified industry cluster. DRA’s maximum grant amount per project will be $250,000. DRA funds may be used to provide technical assistance for business development and economic development planning in rural areas.
Through the use of these coordinated investments, Rural Jobs Accelerator activities will:
• Accelerate the creation of high-wage jobs;5
• Accelerate the formation of new businesses and growth of existing businesses;
• Identify and build assets in rural communities that are crucial to supporting regional economic ecosystems;
• Link rural communities to markets, networks, industry clusters, and other regional opportunities;
• Facilitate the repatriation of jobs back to the United States6;
• Support the deployment of innovative processes, technologies, and products;
• Enhance the capacity of small businesses in regional innovation clusters, including small and disadvantaged businesses7;
• Increase U.S. exports and business interaction with international buyers and suppliers;
• Develop the skills and expertise of local workforces, entrepreneurs, and institutional partners to support growing clusters; and
• Ensure rural economies are supported by efficiently planned housing and community development.
For prospective applicants, EDA and USDA will hold an information teleconference on March 20, 2012.
The deadline for receipt of applications is May 9, 2012. Contact us for more information!