Opportunity Zones For Rural Communities

Rural Opportunity Zone Targeted Programs

Focusing on 3 Key area for rural communities.




Below are a list of resources and programs that are uniquely targeted to Rural Opportunity Zones for Economic Development, Workforce and Education, and Entrepreneurship.

Additional resources and links are provided at the end for rural leaders to access Opportunity Zone Best Practices and strategies to leverage Federal resources.

Economic Development

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FUND, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY The New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program) aims to break a cycle of disinvestment by attracting the private investment necessary to reinvigorate struggling local economies. The NMTC Program attracts private capital into low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their federal income tax in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial intermediaries called Community Development Entities (CDEs).

RURAL HOUSING SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE The Rural Housing Service’s Community Facilities (CF) Technical Assistance and Training (TAT) Grant Program provides supplemental grant funding for eligible expenses related to the consequences of Hurricanes Michael and Florence and wildfires occurring in calendar year 2018, tornadoes and floods occurring in calendar year 2019, and other natural disasters.

OFFICE OF COMMUNITY SERVICES, ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES The CED program provides grant awards on a competitive basis to private non-profit community development corporations that design projects which address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of sustainable business development and employment opportunities. Priority bonus points are granted to applicants from rural areas with high rates of poverty, unemployment, substance abuse use disorder, and areas designated as Opportunity Zones.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization (OCR) provides technical assistance and capacity to communities, helping them create locally led, community driven plans that include catalytic public investments that leverage private sector investments. The assistance helps rural and distressed communities identify and nurture economic drivers such as local and regional food systems, the health care economy, broadband investments, and the growing recreation economy in ways that lead to the revitalization of the Main Street economy, the reuse of vacant properties and buildings, and development that takes advantage of existing infrastructure. OCR and Regional partners also use geospatial analysis to understand environmental challenges in rural and distressed communities. Additionally, for rural communities with Opportunity Zones, OCR created a Community Prospectus Development Tool, and a Development Finance Toolbox with strategies for incentivizing and attracting Opportunity Zone investment.

Education & Workforce Development

RURAL DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE This program provides financial assistance to enable and improve distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas. The grant funds support the use of telecommunications-enabled information, audio and video equipment, and related advanced technologies by students, teachers, medical professionals and rural residents. The grants are intended to increase rural access to education, training, and health care resources that are otherwise unavailable or limited in scope.

EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR These grants will enable eligible applicants within the Appalachian and Delta regions to expand the impact of existing workforce development initiatives, as well as provide valuable career, training, and support services to eligible individuals in counties and parishes and/or areas currently underserved by other resources. These grants support workforce development activities that prepare dislocated workers, new entrants to the workforce, and incumbent workers for good jobs in high-demand occupations aligned with a regional or community economic development strategy.

OFFICE OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Part B of Title V of the reauthorized ESEA contains Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP) initiatives that are designed to help rural districts that may lack the personnel and resources to compete effectively for Federal competitive grants and that often receive grant allocations in amounts that are too small to be effective in meeting their intended purposes.

OFFICE OF CAREER, TECHNICAL, AND ADULT EDUCATION, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Each year under the Perkins V statute, Congress authorizes roughly $1.4 million annually for the Innovation and Modernization Program (Perkins I&M) to support grants to eligible entities, eligible institutions, and eligible recipients. The purpose of the Perkins I&M is to identify, support, and rigorously evaluate evidence-based and innovative strategies and activities to improve and modernize career and technical education (CTE) and ensure workforce skills taught in CTE programs funded under the Perkins statute align with labor market needs.

DELTA REGIONAL AUTHORITY The Delta Workforce Grant Program (DWP) targets federal resources towards communities in the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt regions particularly hard hit by industrial downsizing, business closures, and job losses as a result of the public health and economic crisis. DWP supports projects and initiatives that create a more vibrant economic future for the Delta region by expanding job training and re-employment opportunities, aligning workforce and economic development strategies, creating sustainable talent pipelines, establishing or enhancing locally/regionally significant public-private partnerships, and supporting enhanced workforce productivity through investments in innovative programming. Applicants will receive additional points if they can demonstrate their project occurs in or impacts a federally-designated Opportunity Zone.


RURAL DEVELOPMENT, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE This is a competitive grant designed to support targeted technical assistance, training and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses in rural areas that match median household income criteria. Priorities are given according to trauma, economic distress, long-term poverty, population decline, and unemployment.

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION SBA’s flagship loan program provides small businesses with access to capital to finance a wide variety of business activities, including purchasing machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies and materials, improvements to land and buildings, and working capital.

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION The SBA’s Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs (PRIME) provides grants to organizations that help low-income entrepreneurs who lack sufficient training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses. SBA expects to make approximately 25 awards for a total of $5 million.

APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) is a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production. The POWER Initiative supports efforts to create a more vibrant economic future for coal-impacted communities by cultivating economic diversity, enhancing job training and re-employment opportunities, creating jobs in existing or new industries, and attracting new sources of investment.

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