The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is making priority funding available to support economic development and create jobs in National Scenic Areas, located along waterways, that have been devastated by wildfires.

The funds may be used to establish business support centers; provide funds for job training and leadership development; or to support targeted technical assistance, training, feasibility studies, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenue, said a press release.

Rural Development is reserving $2 million under the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program for eligible projects in rural communities located on a river or ocean coastline. Priority is being given to National Scenic Areas impacted by wildfires. National Scenic Areas are environmentally-protected, federally-designated locations that have outstanding natural and scenic value.

State and local government entities, nonprofits, and federally-recognized tribes are eligible to apply. Proposed projects must be consistent with any local, tribal, or area-wide community and economic development strategic plans and support other economic development activities in the project area.

These grants are awarded on a competitive basis. Applications must be received by July 6 at 4:30 p.m. In Oregon, applications may be submitted electronically to or.rd.bp.apps@usda.gov or mailed to USDA Rural Development, ATTN: Faith Harris, 1220 S.W. Third Ave., Suite 1801, Portland, OR 97204.

Prior to developing an application, interested applicants are encouraged to contact Faith Harris, business and cooperative programs specialist, 503-414-3358, to discuss their project proposal.

Additional information is also available on page 27365 of the May 20 Federal Register.