Announcements regarding hearings, grants, and public comment notices of importance to California's rural counties.

USDA Extends Deadlines for New Rural “ReConnect” Broadband Program

In March 2018, USDA received $600 million from Congress to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America.  USDA established the ReConnect Program to help connect rural areas that currently have insufficient broadband service that is available to telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives and utilities, internet service providers and municipalities.  The program is providing $200 million in grants, $200 million for loan and grant combinations, and $200 million for low-interest loans.  In order to give potential applicants sufficient time to access technical assistance from USDA, the deadline has been pushed back to May 31, 2019 or later.  Additionally, USDA announced a public webinar with general information about the ReConnect Program on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 at 11:00 am Pacific Time/2:00 pm Eastern Time.

Click here to register for the webinar.  Click here for additional details on the ReConnect program.

Rural Business Development Grant Program Updates

Recently, USDA Rural Development announced a standardized application window for the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program.  Applications are being accepted now through March 29, 2019.  Late applications will not be accepted, and all applications must be received on or before March 29, 2019.

USDA Program Overview & Examples

USDA encourages those interested in the program to review USDA Rural Development’s RBDG website for complete program details including eligibility information and priorities.  Individual businesses are not eligible to apply for this grant program.

Last year, a total of 20 California entities received nearly $1.2 million in RBDG funds to help support a variety of economic development projects. Here are a few examples:

  • City of Dorris received $30,000 to help develop a strategic economic development plan for the city;
  • Indian Dispute Resolution Services received $49,671 in Native American set-aside funds to provide training and technical assistance in micro-enterprise and small business skills development to entrepreneurs living on reservations;
  • CSU, Chico Research Foundation received $50,000 for a study on the barriers to deploying broadband in rural areas including what hampers growth of wireless service providers, precision agricultural technology companies, and technical STEM training, and what is needed to support these high skill, high wage jobs;
  • Imperial Regional Alliance received $80,000 to facilitate private investment and promote local economic development growth in addition to developing a cold storage facility near Calexico to help alleviate local economic development issues;  
  • Lake County Economic Development Corporation received $92,000 to support small and emerging businesses in Lake County with direct technical assistance through workshops, one-on-one consultations and development of marketing and businesses skills;
  • California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) received $125,000 to create a partnership to finance rural infrastructure and technical assistance to support increased economic development and job creation across rural California;
  • Central Sierra Planning Council received $178,000 for a multi-prong approach that includes long-term business strategic planning, business plan development, community economic development and a feasibility study evaluating the use of local biomass products to reduce wildfire risk and support affordable housing construction.  

For questions on the program, how to apply, or a proposed project, please contact one of the following Rural Development team members:

Maretta Siatunuu, 530-792-5801 or

Karen Rich, 530-792-5825 or

Carol Pranka, 530-574-7410 or

Dan Johnson, 661-336-0967 or

John Jebian, 760-238-6525 or