USDA grant seeks to utilize local assets to benefit rural areas

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LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced a new grant program. It’s designed to help improve rural communities by creating jobs and increasing wages.

The USDA is looking to boost rural areas sometimes forgotten.

“They’re seeking to fund in my understanding from yesterday are expansions of actual spaces and also the assistance being provided to entrepreneurs and business owners who are,” said Steve Stumbris, director of Small Business Development Center at Bucknell University.

This grant program could help recipients provide training and create higher paid positions for existing employees and increase wages. Stumbris says if Bucknell gets the grant, they will expand their entrepreneur programs.

“Strengthen and expand both start up Lewisburg and start up Danville but potentially drive additional start up communities,” Stumbris said.

RISE (Rural Innovation Stronger Economy) will give out a total of $10 million. Each agency can receive anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million over 4 years.

“You know max if everyone asks for just $500,000, they’re only giving out 20 awards. So it’s going to be very competitive throughout the whole United States and we’re hoping to bring at least one or two of those into Pennsylvania,” said Allen Hopkins, Business Program Specialist with the USDA, Lycoming area office.

The deadline to apply for the Rise grant is August 2.

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