Federal Help for Rural Downtowns—Yes, NJ has rural towns

Federal Help for Rural Downtowns—Yes, NJ has rural towns

By NJ Staff
USDA Rural Development

January 4, 2021

Although New Jersey is considered urban and suburban by many officials and residents, it has many rural communities defined by Federal statutes under the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Business, Community, and Housing Programs. Over 45 programs administered by Rural Development under the  are designed to improve the economy and quality of life of rural areas of the United States. Since its formation under the 1990 Farm Bill, USDA Rural Development NJ has been helping rural communities with infrastructure improvements, job growth, affordable housing and essential health care, educational, and emergency services.

Central to the rural economy of the US are its many town centers and rural businesses, like Woodbine, Wildwood, Sussex, Flemington, Washington, and many others in NJ’s rural counties. The USDA’s Business Programs can help rural downtowns recover and prosper. We can also share more information about our community, energy, and housing programs – also essential to rural prosperity – in a presentation to your community leadership.

There are more than 45 programs that can assist rural businesses. Below we’ve summarized just a few. To see if a business address it is located in an eligible rural area, call USDA Rural Development or visit the website.

  • The Business and Industry Cares Act Program is the first program businesses should consider for help preventing, responding and recovering from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. This program provides working capital loans for rural businesses and agricultural producers in operation on February 15, 2020 with terms up to 10 years, deferred interest in the first year and deferred principal payments for up to 3 years.
  • Launched on October 1, 2020 was a streamlined loan guarantee program providing loan guarantees to rural businesses, non-profits, and public bodies for real estate acquisition and improvements, equipment and working capital. The maximum Business and Industry loan amount is $25 million with terms up to 30 years for real estate, 15 years or the useful life for equipment, and 7 years on working capital. The OneRD Loan Guarantee combines four guaranteed loan programs under one regulation to cut red tape and streamline processing for guaranteed lenders. The four programs include the Business and Industry, Community Facilities, Water and Environmental, and Renewable Energy Loan Guarantee Programs under one regulatory platform and process.
  • For non-profits and public bodies, the Rural Business Development Grant Program may be used for planning, equipment, or technical assistance grants that lead to job creation and rural prosperity. Grants averaging $35,000 to $50,000 are awarded each fiscal year to 5-6 recipients. The application deadline for FY2021 is February 26, 2021.

Below are a few examples of projects  funded over the past few years that may spark an interest in how Rural Development can assist your downtown:

  • Washington Borough BID, Warren County, obtained a guaranteed loan for a parking lot and, most recently, a grant for trash receptacles in the downtown area.
  • Flemington Borough, Hunterdon County, received grants and loans for Water and Wastewater Improvements.
  • Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce received loans for real estate acquisition and improvements and a Rural Business Development Grant for equipment needed for business training at the new facility.
  • Pemberton Township, Burlington County, was approved for a grant in 2020 to improve streetscapes in the downtown area.

 

Let us help you find solutions for your rural community. USDA Rural Development has been serving rural communities from its 3 NJ locations:  Mt. Laurel, Hackettstown and Vineland. For more information on USDA Rural Development, visit our website at www.usda.gov/nj or contact Maryann Tancredi, Business Programs Director, at 856-787-7752 or Christine Schmelzle, Community Programs Director, 856-787-7751.