[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 57 (Wednesday, March 25, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 15665-15673]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-06489]

Rules and Regulations
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents 
having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed 
to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published 
under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.

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Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 57 / Wednesday, March 25, 2015 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 15665]]


Rural Business-Cooperative Service

Rural Housing Service

Rural Utilities Service

Farm Service Agency

7 CFR Parts 1901 and 1942

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

Rural Utilities Service

7 CFR Parts 4280 and 4284

RIN 0570-AA92

Rural Business Development Grant

AGENCY: Rural Business-Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, 
Rural Utilities Service and Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Department of 

ACTION: Interim final rule with request for comments.


SUMMARY: This Interim Final Rule is needed to ensure that the Agency 
will have a regulation in place to meet the Congressional mandate 
established in Congress in the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm 
Bill). This mandate requires the Agency to establish a new program 
called the Rural Business Development Grant Program which combines the 
former Rural Business Enterprise Grant and Rural Business Opportunity 
Grant programs. The Agency has made no substantive changes to either 
the Rural Business Enterprise Grant or Rural Business Opportunity Grant 
programs when combining these regulations into the Rural Business 
Development Grant program.
    Rural Development, Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) is 
establishing a new regulation for the Rural Business Development Grant 
(RBDG) program. The program was established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 
RBDG Program will combine the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) 
and the Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) programs. There are no 
substantive programmatic changes to RBEG and RBOG with this 

DATES: This Interim Final Rule is effective March 25, 2015. Written 
comments on this Interim Final Rule must be received on or before May 
26, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this Interim Final Rule by any of 
the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments. You can find the rule 
by searching the RIN number 0570-AA92.
     Mail: Submit written comments via the U.S. Postal Service 
to the Branch Chief, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, 300 7th Street SW., 7th Floor, Washington, 
DC 20024.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: Submit written comments via Federal 
Express Mail or other courier service requiring a street address to the 
Branch Chief, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, 300 7th Street SW., 7th Floor, Washington, 
DC 20024.
    All written comments will be available for public inspection during 
regular work hours at the 300 7th Street SW., 7th Floor address listed 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melvin Padgett or Cindy Mason, Rural 
Development, Business Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 
Independence Avenue SW., Stop 3226, Washington, DC 20250; email: 
[email protected] or [email protected]; at (202) 720-
1495 or (202) 690-1433, respectively.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Request for Comments: The Agency is 
interested in receiving comments on all aspects of the Interim Final 
Rule. All comments should be submitted as indicated in the ADDRESSES 
section of this preamble. The Agency is seeking specific comments on 
whether or not to utilize this RBDG regulation to continue to process 
television demonstration grants and regional commission grants which 
are currently in 7 CFR part 1942, subpart G. And, whether or not to 
incorporate grants for expansion of employment opportunities for 
individuals with disabilities and health care services which were 
authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. The Agency is interested in 
considering all factors that affect the public. Please be sure to 
include your rationale for your suggestions.
    Additionally, in 2007, Rural Development published a proposed rule 
for RBEG, however, a final rule was never published. Rural Development 
appreciates the comments that were submitted on the proposed rule, and 
requests that reviewers resubmit comments on this consolidated rule if 
they believe they are still valid.

Executive Order 12866, Classification

    This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of 
Executive Order 12866 and has not been reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB).

Programs Affected

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program number assigned 
to the RBDG is 10.351.

Environmental Impact Statement

    This document has been reviewed in accordance with 7 CFR part 1940, 
subpart G, ``Environmental Program.'' Rural Development has determined 
that this action does not constitute a major Federal action 
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment and, in 
accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 
42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., an Environmental Impact Statement is not 

Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Consultation

    The program is subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12372, 
which requires intergovernmental consultation with State and local 
officials. Consultation will be completed at the time each grant is 

Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice

    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. The Agency has determined that this rule meets the 
applicable standards provided in section 3 of the Executive Order. 
Additionally, (1) all State and local laws and regulations that

[[Page 15666]]

are in conflict with this rule will be preempted; (2) no retroactive 
effect will be given to the rule; and (3) administrative appeal 
procedures, if any, must be exhausted before litigation against the 
Department or its agencies may be initiated, in accordance with the 
regulations of the National Appeals Division of the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture at 7 CFR part 11.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The policies contained in this rule do not have any substantial 
direct effect on States, on the relationship between the National 
Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of Government. Nor does this 
rule impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local 
Governments. Therefore, consultation with States is not required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    Under section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 
605(b), the Agency certifies that this rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Agency 
made this determination based on the fact that this regulation only 
impacts those who choose to participate in the program. Small entity 
applicants will not be impacted to a greater extent than large entity 

Unfunded Mandate Reform Act

    This rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory 
provisions of Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995) for 
State, local, and Tribal governments, or the private sector. Thus, this 
rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal 

    This executive order imposes requirements on Rural Development in 
the development of regulatory policies that have Tribal implications or 
preempt Tribal laws. As previously noted, the consolidation of the RBEG 
and RBOG programs through the publication of this Interim Final Rule 
will not institute any substantive programmatic changes. However, since 
Congress has legislatively mandated funds to benefit federally 
recognized Indian Tribes in both programs, in the past, implementation 
of the RBDG program in future years may have substantial and direct 
effects on one or more Indian Tribe(s).
    Consequently, the consolidation of the RBEG and RBOG programs under 
the RBDG program was featured in two Tribal Consultation webinars 
hosted by Rural Development in fiscal year (FY) 2014. On April 2, 2014, 
Rural Development hosted a Tribal Consultation webinar and 
teleconference that summarized significant changes to its programs 
mandated by the 2014 Farm Bill. During the webinar, in addition to 
summarizing the Farm Bill changes, Rural Development listed five Farm 
Bill provisions that would likely require further consultation--
including the RBDG program. No objections were raised by participants 
to alter that assumption.
    On August 25, 2014, Rural Development hosted a Tribal Consultation 
webinar and teleconference that covered the implementation of the RBDG 
program and the Strategic Economic and Community Development (Section 
6025) provision in great depth. Again, no objections were raised by 
participants to alter the course of implementation for either the RBDG 
program or Section 6025.
    For further information regarding Rural Development's past Tribal 
Consultation events or Rural Development's Tribal Consultation process, 
please contact Rural Development's Native American Coordinator at (720) 
544-2911 or [email protected].

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this 
document announces the intention of RBS to request information 
collection in support of the RBDG program (7 CFR part 4280, subpart E). 
No new requirements have been added, but it is the intent of the Agency 
to combine the two current Paperwork Reduction Act packages into one. 
Until this paperwork burden is approved, the Agency will utilize the 
current RBEG and RBOG paperwork burdens. These burdens are approved 
under 0570-0022 and 0570-0024 respectively.
    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of 
information is estimated to average 3.0 hours per response.
    Respondents: Nonprofit corporations and public bodies.
    Estimated Number of Respondents: 920.
    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 22.
    Estimated Number of Responses: 20,517.
    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 64,773.
    Comments on this document must be received by May 26, 2015 to be 
assured of consideration.

E-Government Act Compliance

    Rural Development is committed to complying with the E-Government 
Act, to promote the use of the internet and other information 
technologies, to provide increased opportunities for citizens to access 
Government information and services electronically.

Good Cause

    Rural Development is publishing this rule as an interim final rule 
for good cause in that:
    Rural Development anticipates going forward that Congress will only 
be providing appropriations for RBDG and not for the RBOG and RBEG 
    Since the RBEG and RBOG programs are being merged without 
substantive changes, the public will not be unfamiliar with the new 
RBDG provisions; and
    Making the RBDG rule an interim final rule will assure the 
continuity of benefits historically provided under the RBOG and RBEG 
    Additionally, notice and comment are not required because of the 
Administrative Procedures Act exceptions for loans and grants at 5 
U.S.C. 553(a)(2).

I. Background

    Rural Development is charged with assisting, among other entities, 
the startup, expansion, and the continuation of small and emerging 
businesses and/or non-profits in rural communities. Rural Development 
supports this portion of the overall mission through two grant 
programs, the RBEG and RBOG programs.
    Rural Development makes RBEGs to public bodies and non-profit 
corporations so that they may assist small and emerging businesses and/
or non-profits in their communities to create and support jobs. RBEG 
funds may be used to: Acquire or develop land, buildings, plants, 
equipment; access streets and roads, parking areas, utility extensions, 
necessary water and supply and waste disposal facilities; provide 
technical assistance; establish revolving loan funds; and to create, 
expand, or operate rural distance learning programs that provide 
educational or job training instruction related to potential employment 
or job advancement to adult students.
    RBOG funds are made to public bodies and non-profit corporations to 
assist businesses and/or non-profits in

[[Page 15667]]

their communities. RBOG funds may be used to assist in the economic 
development of rural areas by providing technical assistance, training, 
and planning for business and economic development.
    In February 2014 the United States Congress passed the 2014 Farm 
Bill. This law combined the RBEG and RBOG programs into one grant 
program, the RBDG program. The Congressional Record emphasizes that the 
two programs should continue to operate in essentially the same manner 
as they operated when they were separate grant programs. Thus, Rural 
Development is publishing this Interim Final Rule to meet the statutory 
requirements of the 2014 Farm Bill.
    Grants made before the implementation of the RBDG program will 
continue to be governed by the terms of the applicable RBOG and RBEG 
regulations in effect at the time the grants were made together with 
any other applicable agreements.

II. Discussion of Changes

    The Agency is publishing this Interim Final Rule to meet the 
statutory requirements of the 2014 Farm Bill including revising the 
definition of rural and rural areas to conform to the Consolidated Farm 
and Rural Development Act definition. The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated 
the RBEG and RBOG programs into one grant program while allowing both 
programs to operate essentially as they have in the past. The Agency is 
soliciting comments to this new regulation and will consider all 
comments received prior to publishing a Final Rule. Publishing this 
Interim Final Rule will permit the Agency to provide continuous service 
to rural small and emerging businesses, non-profit corporations, and 
local public bodies, while requesting input from the public on their 
views of this grant program.
    The Agency combined 7 CFR part 1942, subpart G and 7 CFR part 4284, 
subpart G into the RBDG rule at 7 CFR part 4280, subpart E. Rural 
Development has also integrated applicable general provisions of 7 CFR 
part 4284, subpart A into the RBDG rule. Essentially, the Agency did 
not change any of the requirements of either program but blended the 
two regulations into one and eliminated duplicative portions so that 
there is only one set of requirements. The Agency also combined 
definitions so that the public has one definition for both programs as 
well as blended the scoring requirements of both former regulations. 
Finally, the Agency blended the application processes into one 
streamlined set of procedures under the RBDG funding, incorporating the 
statutory language of the 2014 Farm Bill (7 U.S.C. 1932(c)) specifying 
how the funding would be split.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Agency is adopting the 
new the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant regulation at 2 CFR 
chapter IV for monitoring and servicing RBDG funding. If this rule is 
published prior to new the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant 
regulations being published and effective, the Agency will comply with 
all applicable parts of 2 CFR chapter IV and chapter XXX including 7 
CFR parts 3015, 3016, 3019, and 3052.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 1901

    Civil rights, Compliance reviews, Fair housing, and Minority 

7 CFR Part 1942

    Business and Industry, Grant programs--Housing and Community 
development, Industrial park, and Rural areas.

7 CFR Part 4280

    Business and Industry, Economic Development, Grant programs, 
Community development, Industrial Sites, and Rural Areas.

7 CFR Part 4284

    Business and Industry, Economic Development, Grant programs--
Housing and Community development, and Rural Areas.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, chapters XVIII and XLII, 
title 7, of the Code of Federal Regulations are being amended as 



1. The authority citation for part 1901 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 7 U.S.C. 1989; 40 U.S.C. 442; 42 U.S.C. 
1480, 2942.

Subpart E--Civil Rights Compliance Requirements

2. Amend Sec.  1901.204 by revising paragraph (a)(16) to read as 

Sec.  1901.204  Compliance reviews.

    (a) * * *
    (16) Rural Business Development Grants.
* * * * *


3. The authority citation for part 1942 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 7 U.S.C. 1989.

Subpart G--[Removed and Reserved]

4. Remove and reserve subpart G, consisting of Sec. Sec.  1942.301 
through 1942.350 and Guides 1 and 2 to subpart G.



5. The authority citation for part 4280 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301: 7 U.S.C. 940c and 7 U.S.C. 1932(c).

6. Add subpart E to read as follows:

Subpart E--Rural Business Development Grants


4280.401 Purpose.
4280.402 [Reserved]
4280.403 Definitions.
4280.404 Exception authority.
4280.405 Review or appeal rights.
4280.406 Conflict of interest.
4280.407 Statute and regulation references.
4280.408 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) departmental 
regulations and laws that contain other compliance requirements.
4280.409 [Reserved]
4280.410 Other laws and regulations that contain compliance 
requirements for this program.
4280.411 Forms, guides, and attachments.
4280.412-4280.414 [Reserved]

Rural Business Development Grants

4280.415 Rural Business Development Grants.


4280.416 Applicant eligibility.
4280.417 Project eligibility.
4280.418-4280.420 [Reserved]

Funding Provisions

4280.421 Term requirement.
4280.422 Joint funding.
4280.423 Ineligible uses of grant funds.
4280.424-4280.426 [Reserved]

Applying for a Grant

4280.427 Application.
4280.428-4280.429 [Reserved]
4280.430 Notification of decision.
4280.431-4280.433 [Reserved]

[[Page 15668]]

Processing and Scoring Application

4280.434 General processing and scoring provisions.
4280.435 Scoring criteria.
4280.436-4280.438 [Reserved]

Grant Awards and Agreements

4280.439 Grant awards and agreements.
4280.440-4280.442 [Reserved]

Post Award Activities and Requirements

4280.443 Grant monitoring and servicing.
4280.444-4280.447 [Reserved]
4280.448 Transfers and assumptions.
4280.449-4280.499 [Reserved]
4280.500 OMB control number.


Sec.  4280.401  Purpose.

    This subpart implements the RBDG program administered by the 
Agency. Grants made under this subpart will be made to eligible 
entities for use in funding various business opportunity and business 
enterprise Projects that serve Rural Areas.

Sec.  4280.402  [Reserved]

Sec.  4280.403  Definitions.

    Administrator. The Administrator of RBS or designees or successors.
    Agency. Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) or successor.
    Agriculture Production. The cultivation, production, growing, 
raising, feeding, housing, breeding, hatching, or managing of crops, 
plants, animals or birds, either for fiber, food for human consumption, 
or livestock feed.
    Arm's-length Transaction. The sale, release, or disposition of 
assets in which the title to the property passes to a ready, willing, 
and able disinterested third party that is not affiliated with or 
related to and has no security, monetary, or stockholder interest in 
the grantee or transferor at the time of the transaction.
    Business Support Centers. Centers established to provide assistance 
to businesses in such areas as counseling, business planning, training, 
management assistance, marketing information, and locating financing 
for business operations. The centers need not be located in a Rural 
Area, but must provide assistance to businesses located in Rural Areas.
    Departmental Grant Regulations. The USDA grant regulations at 2 CFR 
chapter IV.
    Economic Development. The industrial, business and financial 
augmentation of an area as evidenced by increases in total income, 
employment opportunities, value of production, duration of employment, 
or diversification of industry, reduced outmigration, higher labor 
force participation rates or wage levels or gains in other measurements 
of economic activity, such as land values.
    Indian Tribe (Tribal). Indian Tribes on Federal and State 
reservations and other federally recognized Indian Tribal groups.
    Industrial Site. The development of undeveloped real estate for 
uses which will assist Small and Emerging Businesses.
    Long-term. The period of time covered by the three most recent 
decennial censuses of the United States to the present.
    Nonprofit. An entity chartered as a nonprofit organization under 
applicable State or Tribal law.
    Other Business Development. Any business related activity that will 
assist Small and Emerging Businesses and may include but is not limited 
to business incubators, business training centers, and other training 
activity which leads directly to Small and Emerging Business 
    Planning. A process to coordinate Economic Development activities, 
develop guides for action, or otherwise assist local community leaders 
in the Economic Development of Rural Areas.
    Priority Communities. Communities targeted for Agency assistance as 
determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for 
Rural Development that are experiencing trauma due to natural disasters 
or are undertaking or completing fundamental structural changes, have 
remained persistently poor, or have experienced Long-Term population 
decline or job deterioration.
    Project. The result of the use of grant funds provided under this 
subpart through Technical Assistance or Planning relating to the 
Economic Development of a Rural Area; or the result of the use of 
program funds (i.e., a facility whether constructed by the applicant or 
a third party made with grant funds, Technical Assistance, startup 
operating costs, or working capital). A revolving fund established in 
whole or in part with grant funds will also be considered a Project.
    Public Bodies/Government Entity. Public Bodies include States, 
counties, cities, townships, and incorporated towns and villages, 
boroughs, authorities, districts, and education institutions organized 
under State and Federal laws, and Indian Tribes.
    Rural and Rural Area. As described in 7 U.S.C. 1991(a)(13)(A) and 
(D) et seq.
    Small and Emerging Business. Any private and/or Nonprofit business 
which will employ 50 or fewer new employees and has less than $1 
million in gross revenue; for retail operations, total sales minus cost 
of goods sold minus returns or for a service organizations, gross 
revenue minus cost of providing service or for a manufacturing 
operation it will be total sales minus cost of raw materials minus the 
cost of production.
    State. Any of the 50 States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the 
U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States 
of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
    Technical Assistance. A function performed for the benefit of a 
private business enterprise or a community and which is a problem 
solving activity, such as market research, product and/or service 
improvement, feasibility study, etc., to assist in the Economic 
Development of a Rural Area.

Sec.  4280.404  Exception authority.

    The Administrator may make an exception, on a case-by-case basis, 
to any requirement or provision of this subpart that is not 
inconsistent with any authorizing statute or applicable law if the 
Administrator determines that application of the requirement or 
provision would adversely affect the Government's financial interest.

Sec.  4280.405  Review or appeal rights.

    A person may seek a review of an Agency decision under this subpart 
from the appropriate Agency official that oversees the program in 
question or appeal to the National Appeals Division in accordance with 
7 CFR part 11.

Sec.  4280.406  Conflict of interest.

    (a) General. No conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of 
interest will be allowed. For purposes of this subpart, Conflict of 
Interest includes, but is not limited to, distribution or payment of 
grant, guaranteed loan funds, and matching funds or award of Project 
construction contracts to an individual owner, partner, or stockholder, 
or to a beneficiary or immediate family of the applicant or grantee 
when the recipient will retain any portion of ownership in the 
applicant's or grantee's Project. Grant and matching funds may not be 
used to support costs for services or goods going to, or coming from, a 
person or entity with a real or apparent conflict of interest. All 
transactions must be Arm's-length Transactions.
    (b) Assistance to employees, relatives, and associates. The Agency 
will process any requests for assistance under this subpart in 
accordance with 7 CFR part 1900, subpart D.

[[Page 15669]]

    (c) Member/delegate clause. No member of or delegate to Congress 
shall receive any share or part of this grant or any benefit that may 
arise therefrom; but this provision shall not be construed to bar, as a 
contractor under the grant, a publicly held corporation whose ownership 
might include a member of Congress so long as the member's ownership is 
less than 10 percent.

Sec.  4280.407  Statute and regulation references.

    All references to statutes and regulations are to include any and 
all successor statutes and regulations.

Sec.  4280.408  U.S. Department of Agriculture departmental regulations 
and laws that contain other compliance requirements.

    (a) Departmental regulations. All funded under this subpart are 
subject to the provisions of the Departmental Regulations, as 
applicable, which are incorporated by reference herein.
    (b) Equal opportunity and nondiscrimination. The Agency will ensure 
that equal opportunity and nondiscrimination requirements are met in 
accordance with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. 1691 et 
seq. and 7 CFR part 15d, ``Nondiscrimination in Programs and Activities 
Conducted by the United State Department of Agriculture.'' The Agency 
will not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, color, 
religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided that 
the applicant has the capacity to contract); because all or part of the 
applicant's income derives from any public assistance program; or 
because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the 
Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.
    (c) Civil rights compliance. Recipients of grants must comply with 
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., 
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., and 
section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794. This may 
include collection and maintenance of data on the race, sex, and 
national origin of the recipient's membership/ownership and employees. 
The data must be available to conduct compliance reviews.
    (1) Initial compliance reviews will be conducted by the Agency 
prior to funds being obligated.
    (2) Grants will require one subsequent compliance review following 
Project completion. This will occur prior to the last disbursement of 
grant funds.
    (d) Environmental requirements. 7 CFR part 1940, subpart G or 
successor regulation applies to this subpart. Prospective applicants 
are advised to contact the Agency to determine environmental 
requirements as soon as practicable after they decide to pursue any 
form of financial assistance directly or indirectly available through 
the Agency.
    (1) Any required environmental review must be completed by the 
Agency prior to the Agency obligating any funds.
    (2) The applicant will be notified of all specific compliance 
requirements, including, but not limited to, the publication of public 
notices, and consultation with State Historic Preservation Offices (or 
Tribal Historic Preservation Offices where appropriate) and the U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service.
    (3) A site visit by the Agency may be scheduled, if necessary, to 
determine the scope of the review.
    (4) Applications for Technical Assistance or Planning Projects are 
generally excluded from the environmental review process by Sec.  
1940.333 of this title provided the assistance is not related to the 
development of a specific site. However, as further specified in 7 CFR 
1940.330, the grantee for a Technical Assistance grant, in the process 
of providing Technical Assistance, must consider the potential 
environmental impacts of the recommendations provided to the recipient 
of the Technical Assistance.
    (5) Applicants for grant funds must consider and document within 
their plans the important environmental factors within the Planning 
area and the potential environmental impacts of the plan on the 
Planning area, as well as the alternative Planning strategies that were 
    (6) Whenever an applicant files an application that includes a 
direct construction Project and a plan, they must have a separate 
environmental evaluation.
    (e) Discrimination complaints--(1) Who may file. Persons or a 
specific class of persons believing they have been subjected to 
discrimination prohibited by this section may file a complaint 
personally, or by an authorized representative with USDA, Director, 
Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 
    (2) Time for filing. A complaint must be filed no later than 180 
days from the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for 
filing is extended by the designated officials of USDA or the Agency.
    (f) Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act. 
All Projects must comply with the requirements set forth in 7 CFR part 
    (g) Floodplains and wetlands. All Projects must comply with 
Executive Order 11988 ``Floodplain Management'' and Executive Order 
11990 ``Protection of Wetlands.'' The applicable regulations are 
codified at 44 CFR parts 59 through 80.

Sec.  4280.409  [Reserved]

Sec.  4280.410  Other laws and regulations that contain compliance 
requirements for this program.

    (a) Equal employment opportunity. For all construction contracts 
and grants in excess of $10,000, the contractor must comply with 
Executive Order 11246, as amended by Executive Order 11375, and as 
supplemented by applicable Department of Labor regulations (41 CFR part 
60-1). The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the contractor 
complies with these requirements.
    (b) Architectural barriers. All facilities financed with Zero-
Interest Loans that are open to the public or in which persons may be 
employed or reside must be designed, constructed, or altered to be 
readily accessible to and usable by disabled persons. Standards for 
these facilities must comply with the Architectural Barriers Act of 
1968, as amended, (42 U.S.C. 4151-4157).
    (c) Uniform relocation assistance. Relocations in connection with 
these programs are subject to 49 CFR part 24 as referenced by 7 CFR 
part 21 except that the provisions in title III of the Uniform Act do 
not apply to these programs.
    (d) Drug-free workplace. Grants made under these programs are 
subject to the requirements contained in 2 CFR chapter IV which 
implements the Drug-Free Workplace Act. RBDG recipients will be 
required to certify that it will establish and make a good faith effort 
to maintain a drug-free workplace program.
    (e) Debarment and suspension. The requirements of 2 CFR chapter IV 
are applicable to this program.
    (f) Intergovernmental review of Federal programs. These programs 
are subject to the requirements of Executive Order 12372 and 2 CFR 
chapter IV. Proposed Projects are subject to the State and local 
government review process contained in 2 CFR chapter IV.
    (g) Restrictions on lobbying. The restrictions and requirements 
imposed by 31 U.S.C. 1352, and 2 CFR chapter IV, are applicable to 
these programs.
    (h) Earthquake hazards. These programs are subject to the seismic 
requirements of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977 (42 U.S.C. 

[[Page 15670]]

    (i) Affirmative fair housing. If applicable, the grantee will be 
required to comply with the Affirmative Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 
3601-3631 and 24 CFR part 100).
    (j) Flood hazard insurance. The RBDG program is subject to the 
National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 and the Flood Disaster Protection 
Act of 1973, as amended by 42 U.S.C. 4001-4129 and 7 CFR part 1806, 
subpart B.
    (k) Uniform administrative requirements, cost principles, and audit 
requirements for Federal awards. The requirements of 2 CFR chapter IV, 
or its successor regulations are applicable to this program.
    (l) Planning and performing construction and other development. The 
requirements of 7 CFR part 1924, subpart A, or its successor 
regulations, are applicable to this program.
    (m) Transparency Act. The requirements of 2 CFR part 170 are 
applicable to this program.

Sec.  4280.411  Forms, guides, and attachments.

    All forms, guides, and attachments referenced in this subpart are 
available online at: http://forms.sc.egov.usda.gov/eForms/ or in any 
Rural Development State office.

Sec. Sec.  4280.412-4280.414  [Reserved]

Rural Business Development Grants

Sec.  4280.415  Rural Business Development Grants.

    Sections 4280.416 through 4280.439 identify the provisions that the 
Agency will use for making awards for Rural Business Development 


Sec.  4280.416  Applicant eligibility.

    To receive an RBDG under this subpart, an applicant must meet the 
requirements specified in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section. 
If an award is made to an applicant, that applicant (grantee) must 
continue to meet the requirements specified in this section. If the 
grantee does not, then grant funds may be recovered from the grantee by 
the Agency in accordance with Departmental Regulations.
    (a) Type of applicant. The Applicant must be one of the following:
    (1) A Public Body/Government Entity;
    (2) An Indian Tribe; or
    (3) A Nonprofit entity.
    (b) Financial strength and expertise. The Applicant must have 
sufficient financial strength and expertise in activities proposed in 
the application to ensure accomplishment of the described activities 
and objectives.
    (1) Financial strength will be analyzed by the Agency based on 
financial data provided in the application. The analysis will consider 
the applicant's tangible net worth, which must be positive, and whether 
the applicant has dependable sources of revenue or a successful history 
of raising revenue sufficient to meet cash requirements.
    (2) Expertise will be analyzed by the Agency based on the applicant 
staff's training and experience in activities similar to those proposed 
in the application and, if consultants will be used, on the staff's 
experience in choosing and supervising consultants.
    (c) Universal identifier and system for awards management. Unless 
exempt under 2 CFR 25.110, the Applicant must:
    (1) Be registered in the System for Awards Management (SAM) prior 
to submitting an application;
    (2) Maintain an active SAM registration with current information at 
all times during which it has an active Federal award or an application 
under consideration by the Agency; and
    (3) Provide its Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System 
(DUNS) number in each application it submits to the Agency. Generally, 
the DUNS number is included on Standard Form (SF) 424, ``Application 
for Federal Assistance.''
    (d) Delinquent debt. The applicant must not have any delinquent 
debt to the Federal Government. If an applicant has any delinquent debt 
to the Federal Government, the applicant will be ineligible to receive 
any funds obligated under this subpart until the debt has been paid.
    (e) Legal authority and responsibility. Each Applicant must have 
the legal authority necessary to apply for and carry out the purpose of 
the grant.

Sec.  4280.417  Project eligibility.

    For a Project to be eligible for funding under this subpart, the 
proposed Project must meet each of the requirements specified in 
paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section.
    (a) Types of projects. Grant funds may be used for Projects 
identified in either paragraph (a)(1) of this section, business 
opportunity type grants, or paragraph (a)(2) of this section, business 
enterprise type grants. Unless otherwise announced in a Notice of 
Solicitation of Applications, the Agency will set aside 10 percent of 
its RBDG appropriation for business opportunity type grants. The Agency 
reserves the right to reallocate funds set aside for business 
opportunity type grants to business enterprise type grants if it 
becomes apparent to the Agency that there is insufficient demand for 
the funds set aside for the business opportunity type grants.
    (1) Business opportunity Projects. Grant funds may be used for 
business opportunity Projects that include one or more of the following 
    (i) Identify and analyze business opportunities that will use local 
rural materials or human resources. This includes opportunities in 
export markets, as well as feasibility and business plan studies;
    (ii) Identify, train, and provide Technical Assistance to existing 
or prospective rural entrepreneurs and managers;
    (iii) Establish Business Support Centers and otherwise assist in 
the creation of new Rural businesses;
    (iv) Conduct local community or multi-county Economic Development 
    (v) Conduct leadership development training of existing or 
prospective adult rural entrepreneurs and managers;
    (vi) Establish centers for training, technology, and trade that 
will provide training to Rural businesses in the utilization of 
interactive communications technologies to develop international trade 
opportunities and markets; or
    (vii) Pay reasonable fees and charges for professional services 
necessary to conduct the Technical Assistance, training, or planning 
    (2) Business enterprise projects. Grant funds may be used to 
finance and/or develop Small and Emerging Businesses in Rural Areas 
including, but not limited to, the following activities:
    (i) Acquisition and development of land, easements and rights-of-
    (ii) Construction, conversion, enlargement, repairs or 
modernization of buildings, plants, machinery, equipment, access 
streets and roads, parking areas, utilities, and pollution control and 
abatement facilities;
    (iii) Provision of loans for startup operating cost and working 
    (iv) Reasonable fees and charges for professional services 
necessary for the planning and development of the Project;
    (v) Establishment of a revolving loan fund to provide financial 
assistance to third parties through a loan; and
    (vi) Establishment, expansion, and operation of Rural distance 
learning networks or development of Rural learning programs that 
provide educational instruction or job training instruction related to 
potential employment or job advancements for adult students;
    (vii) Provision of Technical Assistance for Small and Emerging 
Businesses, including but not limited to feasibility studies and 
business plans; and/or

[[Page 15671]]

    (viii) Provision of Technical Assistance and training to rural 
communities for the purpose of improving passenger transportation 
services or facilities.
    (b) Result of projects. (1) For business opportunity type grants, 
the Project must have a reasonable prospect that the Project will 
result in the Economic Development of a Rural Area.
    (2) For business enterprise type grants, the Project must have a 
reasonable prospect that it will result in the development or financing 
of Small and Emerging Businesses.
    (c) Basis for success or failure. Grants may be made only when the 
application demonstrates a need for the Project and includes a basis 
for determining the success or failure of the Project and individual 
major elements of the Project and outlines procedures that will be 
taken to assess the Project's impact at its conclusion.
    (d) Local and area-wide strategic plans. Business opportunity type 
grants may be made only when the proposed Project is consistent with 
any local and area-wide strategic plans for community and Economic 
Development, coordinated with other Economic Development activities in 
the Project area, and consistent with any Rural Development State 
Strategic Plan.

Sec. Sec.  4280.418-4280.420   [Reserved]

Funding Provisions

Sec.  4280.421  Term requirement.

    A grant may be considered for the amount needed to assist with the 
completion of a proposed Project, provided that the Project can 
reasonably be expected to be completed within 1 full year after it has 

Sec.  4280.422  Joint funding.

    To the extent permitted by law, Agency grant funds may be used 
jointly and in proportion with funds furnished by the grantee or from 
other sources including Agency loan funds.

Sec.  4280.423  Ineligible uses of grant funds.

    Grant funds may not be used towards any of the uses identified in 
paragraphs (a) through (n) of this section.
    (a) Duplicate current services or substitute support previously 
provided. If the current service is inadequate, however, grant funds 
may be used to expand the level of effort or services beyond what is 
currently being provided.
    (b) Pay costs of preparing the application package for funding 
under this program or any other program.
    (c) Pay costs for any expenses incurred prior to receipt of a full 
application, except for those permitted under Departmental Regulations.
    (d) Fund political activities.
    (e) Pay for assistance to any private business enterprise which 
does not create and/or support jobs in the United States.
    (f) Pay any judgment or debt owed to the United States.
    (g) Fund Agriculture Production either directly or through 
horizontally integrated livestock operations except for commercial 
nurseries, timber operations or limited Agricultural Production related 
to Technical Assistance Projects. The following are not considered 
Agriculture Production:
    (1) Aquaculture, including conservation, development, and 
utilization of water for aquaculture;
    (2) Commercial fishing;
    (3) Commercial nurseries engaged in the production of ornamental 
plants and trees and other nursery products such as bulbs, flowers, 
shrubbery, flower and vegetable seeds, sod, and the growing of plants 
from seed to the transplant stage;
    (4) Forestry, which includes businesses primarily engaged in the 
operation of timber tracts, tree farms, and forest nurseries and 
related activities such as reforestation; or
    (5) The growing of mushrooms or hydroponics.
    (h) To finance comprehensive area-wide type Planning. This does not 
preclude the use of grant funds for Planning for a given Project.
    (i) To make loans when the rates, terms, and charges for those 
loans are not reasonable or would be for purposes not eligible under 7 
CFR part 4274, subpart D.
    (j) For programs operated by cable television systems.
    (k) To fund a part of a Project that is dependent on other funding 
unless there is a firm commitment of the other funding to ensure 
completion of the Project.
    (l) To pay for Technical Assistance that duplicates assistance 
provided to implement an action plan funded by the Forest Service (FS) 
under the National Forest-Dependent Rural Communities Economic 
Diversification Act for 5 continuous years from the date of grant 
approval by the FS. To avoid duplicate assistance, the grantee shall 
coordinate with FS and the Agency to ascertain if a grant has been made 
in a substantially similar geographical or defined local area in a 
State for Technical Assistance under the FS program. The grantee will 
provide documentation to FS and the Agency regarding the contact with 
each agency.
    (m) Pass through grants. Pass through grants are for, but not 
limited to:
    (1) The purchase, refurbishing, or remodeling of real estate for 
use as a business incubator without charging a fair market rental;
    (2) The purchase of equipment for use by an ultimate recipient 
without charging a fair market rental; and
    (3) The making of a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) loan without taking 
appropriate security to reasonably assure repayment of the loan.
    (n) For a Project that would result in the transfer of existing 
employment or business activity more than 25 miles from its existing 

Sec. Sec.  4280.424-4280.426  [Reserved]

Applying for a Grant

Sec.  4280.427  Application.

    Applications for an RBDG grant as specified in Sec.  4280.417(a)(1) 
and (2) must contain the following:
    (a) An original and one copy of SF 424, ``Application For Federal 
Assistance (For Non-construction);''
    (b) Copies of applicant's organizational documents showing the 
applicant's legal existence and authority to perform the activities 
under the grant;
    (c) A proposed scope of work, including a description of the 
proposed Project, e.g., RLF, Technical Assistance, Industrial Site, 
Business Opportunity and Other Business Development, details of the 
proposed activities to be accomplished and timeframes for completion of 
each task, the number of months duration of the Project, and the 
estimated time it will take from grant approval to beginning of Project 
    (d) A written narrative that includes, at a minimum, the following 
    (1) An explanation of why the Project is needed, the benefits of 
the proposed Project, and how the Project meets the grant eligible 
    (2) Area to be served, identifying each governmental unit, i.e. 
town, county, etc., to be affected by the Project;
    (3) Description of how the Project will coordinate Economic 
Development activities with other Economic Development activities 
within the Project area;
    (4) Business to be assisted, if appropriate, and Economic 
Development to be accomplished;
    (5) An explanation of how the proposed Project will result in newly 
created, increased, or supported jobs in the area and the number of 
projected new and supported jobs within the next 3 years;
    (6) A description of the applicant's demonstrated capability and 
experience in providing the proposed Project assistance or similar 

[[Page 15672]]

Development activities, including experience of key staff members and 
persons who will be providing the proposed Project activities and 
managing the Project;
    (7) The method and rationale used to select the areas and 
businesses that will receive the service;
    (8) A brief description of how the work will be performed including 
whether organizational staff or consultants or contractors will be 
used; and
    (9) Other information the Agency may request to assist it in making 
a grant award determination;
    (e) The latest 3 years of financial information to show the 
applicant's financial capacity to carry out the proposed work. If the 
applicant is less than 3 years old, at a minimum, the information 
should include all balance sheet(s), income statement(s) and cash flow 
statement(s). A current audited report is required if available;
    (f) Intergovernmental review comments from the State Single Point 
of Contact, or evidence that the State has elected not to review the 
program under Executive Order 12372;
    (g) Documentation regarding the availability and amount of other 
funds to be used in conjunction with the funds from the RBDG;
    (h) A budget which includes salaries, fringe benefits, consultant 
costs, indirect costs, and other appropriate direct costs for the 
Project; and
    (i) RBDG construction Project grants must conform with 7 CFR part 
1924, subpart A requirements.

Sec. Sec.  4280.428-4280.429   [Reserved]

Sec.  4280.430  Notification of decision.

    When the Agency has determined that an application is not eligible 
or that no further action will be taken, the Agency will notify the 
applicant in writing of the reasons why the application was not 
favorably considered and provide any appeal rights.

Sec. Sec.  4280.431-4280.433  [Reserved]

Processing and Scoring Applications

Sec.  4280.434  General processing and scoring provisions.

    The Agency will review each application for assistance in 
accordance with the priorities established in Sec.  4280.435. The 
Agency will assign each application a priority rating and will select 
applications for funding based on the priority ratings and the total 
funds available to the program.
    (a) Applications. The Agency will score each application based on 
the information contained in the application and its supporting 
information. All applications submitted for funding must contain 
sufficient information to permit the Agency to complete a thorough 
priority rating.
    (b) Unfunded applications. The Agency will notify eligible 
applicants if funds are not available. If an applicant wishes to have 
their application maintained in an active file for future 
consideration, the applicant must revise and update their application 
in writing for the Agency to reconsider in a future funding cycle.

Sec.  4280.435  Scoring criteria.

    The Agency will use the criteria in this section to score 
applications for purposes identified under Sec.  4280.417(a)(1)and (2).
    (a) Leveraging. If the grant will fund a critical element of a 
larger program of Economic Development, without which the overall 
program either could not proceed or would be far less effective, or if 
the program to be assisted by the grant will also be partially funded 
from other sources, points will be awarded as follows. If points are 
awarded for leveraging, funds must be spent proportionally, and if 
leveraged funds are not utilized proportionately with the grant, the 
Agency reserves the right to take any legal action, including 
terminating the grant.
    (1) If Rural Development's portion of Project funding is:
    (i) Less than 20 percent--30 points;
    (ii) 20 but less than 50 percent--20 points;
    (iii) 50 but less than 75 percent--10 points; or
    (iv) 75 percent or more--0 points.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (b) Points will be awarded for each of the following criteria met 
by the community or communities that will receive the benefit of the 
grant. However, regardless of the mathematical total of points 
indicated by paragraphs (b)(1) through (4) of this section, total 
points awarded under this paragraph (b) must not exceed 40.
    (1) Trauma. Experiencing trauma due to a major natural disaster 
that occurred not more than 3 years prior to the filing of the 
application for assistance--15 points;
    (2) Economic distress. The community has suffered a loss of 20 
percent or more in their total jobs caused by the closure of a military 
facility or other employers within the last 3 years--15 points;
    (3) Long-term poverty. Has experienced Long-Term poverty as 
demonstrated by being a former Rural empowerment zone, Rural economic 
area partnership zone, Rural enterprise community, champion community, 
or a persistent poverty county as determined by USDA's Economic 
Research Serviced--10 points;
    (4) Population decline. Has experienced Long-Term population 
decline--10 points as demonstrated by the latest three decennial 
    (c) Population. Proposed Project(s) will be located in a community 
    (1) Under 5,000 population--15 points;
    (2) Between 5,000 and less than 15,000 population--10 points; or
    (3) Between 15,000 and 25,000 population--5 points.
    (d) Unemployment. Proposed Project(s) will be located in areas 
where the unemployment rate:
    (1) exceeds the State rate by 25 percent or more--20 points;
    (2) exceeds the State rate by less than 25 percent--10 points; or
    (3) is equal to or less than the State rate--0 points.
    (e) Median household income. Proposed Project(s) will be located in 
areas where Median Household Income (MHI) as prescribed by section 
673(2) of the Community Services Block Grant Act for a family of 4 for 
the State is:
    (1) Less than poverty line--25 points;
    (2) More than poverty line but less than 65 percent of State MHI--
15 points;
    (3) Between 65 and 85 percent of State MHI--10 points; or
    (4) Greater than 85 percent State MHI--0 points.
    (f) Experience. Applicant has evidence of successful experience in 
the type of activity. Evidence of successful experience may be a 
description of experience supplied and certified by the applicant based 
upon its current employees' resumes:
    (1) 10 or more years-30 points;
    (2) At least 5 but less than 10 years-20 points;
    (3) At least 3 but less than 5 years-10 points; or
    (4) At least 1 but less than 3 years-5 points.
    (g) Small business start-up or expansion. Applicant has evidence 
that small business development will be supported by startup or 
expansion as a result of the activities to be carried out under the 
grant. Written evidence of commitment by a small, or a Small and 
Emerging Business must be provided to the Agency, and should include 
the number of jobs that will be supported and created. 5 points for 
each letter up to 25 points.
    (h) Jobs created or supported. The anticipated development, 
expansion, or furtherance of business enterprises as a result of the 
proposed Project will create and/or support existing jobs associated

[[Page 15673]]

with the affected businesses. The number of jobs must be evidenced by a 
written commitment from the business to be assisted.
    (1) One job for less than $5,000--25 points;
    (2) one job for $5,000 but less than $10,000--20 points;
    (3) one job for $10,000 but less than $15,000--15 points;
    (4) one job for $15,000 but less than $20,000--10 points; or
    (5) one job for $20,000 but less than $25,000--5 points.
    (i) Size of grant request. Grant Projects utilizing funds available 
under this subpart of:
    (1) less than $100,000--25 points;
    (2) $100,000 to $200,000--15 points; or
    (3) more than $200,000 but not more than $500,000--10 points.
    (j) Indirect cost. Applicant is not requesting grant funds to cover 
their administrative or indirect costs-5 points.
    (k) Discretionary points. Either the State Director or 
Administrator may assign up to 50 discretionary points to an 
application. Assignment of discretionary points must include a written 
justification. Permissible justifications are geographic distribution 
of funds, special Secretary of Agriculture initiatives such as Priority 
Communities, or a state's strategic goals. Discretionary points may 
only be assigned to initial grants. However, in the case where two 
Projects have the same score, the State Director may add one point to 
the Project that best fits the State's strategic plan regardless of 
whether the Project is an initial or subsequent grant.

Sec. Sec.  4280.436-4280.438  [Reserved]

Grant Awards and Agreement

Sec.  4280.439  Grant awards and agreements.

    The Agency will award and administer RBDG grants in accordance with 
applicable Departmental regulations, this subpart, and the unauthorized 
grant provisions of 7 CFR part 1951, subpart O.
    (a) Letter of conditions. The Agency will provide each approved 
applicant a letter of conditions, which sets out the conditions under 
which the grant will be made, including, but not limited to, an Agency 
grant agreement.
    (b) Applicant's intent to meet conditions. The applicant must 
complete, sign and return a ``Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions,'' to 
the Agency. If applicant identifies certain conditions that the 
applicant cannot meet, the applicant may propose alternate conditions 
to the Agency. The Agency must concur with any changes proposed by the 
letter of conditions by the applicant before the any grant will be 

Sec. Sec.  4280.440-4280.442  [Reserved]

Post Award Activities and Requirements

Sec.  4280.443  Grant monitoring and servicing.

    RBDG grants will be monitored and serviced in accordance with the 
grant agreement, this subpart, and 2 CFR chapter IV.

Sec. Sec.  4280.444-4280.447  [Reserved]

Sec.  4280.448  Transfers and assumptions.

    The Agency will approve transfer and assumption requests on grants 
awarded under this subpart on a case by case basis, and then only to 
eligible entities under Sec.  4280.416.

Sec. Sec.  4280.449-4280.499  [Reserved]

Sec.  4280.500  OMB control number.

    The reporting and recordkeeping requirements contained in this 
regulation have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) under the provisions of 44 U.S.C. chapter 35 and have been 
assigned OMB control numbers 0570-0022 and 0570-0024 in accordance with 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. You are not required to respond to 
this collection of information unless it displays a valid OMB control 


7. The authority citation for part 4284 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 301 and 7 U.S.C. 1989.
    Subpart F also issued under 7 U.S.C 1932(e).
    Subpart G also issued under 7 U.S.C 1926(a)(11).
    Subpart J also issued under 7 U.S.C 1621 note.
    Subpart K also issued under 7 U.S.C. 1621 note.

Subpart G--[Removed and Reserved]

8. Subpart G, consisting of Sec. Sec.  4284.601 through 4284.700, is 
removed and reserved.

    Dated: March 6, 2015.
Lisa Mensah,
Under Secretary, Rural Development.
    Dated: March 3, 2015.
Michael Scuse,
Under Secretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services.
[FR Doc. 2015-06489 Filed 3-24-15; 8:45 am]