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Rural Development Finance Resource Center

Rural communities often require specialized financing tools and programs to support their unique development needs. Many federal, regional, and state agencies exist to support rural development finance, especially for projects related to agribusiness, broadband development, energy assistance, and value-added business assistance.

CDFA's Rural Development Finance Resource Center provides information about how the development finance toolbox can be structured to support rural communities and help them with strategies to invest in infrastructure, redevelopment, and job creation. Resources showcase successful programs that are working throughout rural America in communities with varying levels of capacity and size.

Additional support is available to rural communities through the CDFA Community Facilities Technical Assistance Program. Funded by the USDA, this program includes resources accessible to every rural community, a Rural Finance Toolkit, and targeted technical assistance support to rural communities.

Want regular updates on Rural Finance? Subscribe to CDFA's Rural Development Finance Update Newsletter.

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-Understanding Rural Finance

Want to learn more about rural financing? CDFA has collected many resources to help you understand the complexities of rural finance.

USDA Programs in the Local Food Supply Chain
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is committed to supporting robust regional food economies across the food chain. This graphic is designed to be a guide for which programs are best suited for different parts of the supply chain.
California Rural Infrastructure Finance Guidebook
CALED knows from its work supporting economic development throughout California that infrastructure financing is a challenge for many rural communities. CALED collaborated with CDFA to develop this guidebook to meet the need for a resource to help build capacity in those areas, as well as move economic development projects forward.
Community Facilities Direct Loan Program Guidance Book for ApplicantsMembers only Login
The Community Facilities (CF) Direct Loan Program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities. This is an Applicant Guidance Book for the USDA's Community Facilities Direct Loan Program.
Regional Resilience Toolkit: 5 Steps to Build Large Scale Resilience to Natural DisasterMembers only Login
Cities, regions, and states across the country are facing natural disasters that can have devastating effects on life, property, the economy, and ecosystems. Climate change is already having observable effects on the environment, and past conditions are no longer a reliable indication of the type or extent of disasters communities will face in the future.
Community Facilities Infrastructure Toolkit
The Community Facilities Infrastructure Toolkit can be used as a guide to help organizations and community leaders better understand the complex process that is required to successfully develop and construct a new facility. The Toolkit outlines the major capacity, credit, and logistical challenges that particularly confront America’s small towns and rural areas. The Community Facilities Infrastructure Toolkit contains sections on concept development, planning, designing, environmental compliance, finance, and construction.
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-Resources

View all Rural Finance Resources

-Aggie Bonds

Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic PlanMembers only Login
The Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan provides broad recommendations are coupled with specific, actionable strategies. The implementation of this plan is critical to achieving greater agricultural and natural resource resiliency, as well as a secure future for the generations of farmers and ranchers to come.
Tax-Exempt Bond Financing for Beginning and Low-Equity Farmers: The Case of Aggie BondsMembers only Login
Established in the 1980s, the ‘‘Aggie Bond’’ program provides beginning and low-equity farmers with access to capital. The bonds, which pay tax-exempt interest, may be used by qualifying famers for purchases of farm real estate and equipment. The authors use 25 years of data to examine whether the Aggie Bond program has had an impact on farm entrance, land ownership, and the size of operation.
Maximizing Rural Opportunities for Businesses and Communities in WisconsinMembers only Login
Urban communities like Milwaukee and Madison are not the only places looking for help to fund economic development. Wisconsin is filled with rural communities and small towns who are also in need of financing strategies. These areas face unique development financing challenges and needs such as downtown revitalization and talent and business development. Barb LaMue with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation explores the cutting-edge strategies driving development in the state, and how to access them.
Presentation: Rural Financing StrategiesMembers only Login
In this presentation, Gray Smith, President and CEO of the Chester County Economic Development Council, examines rural financing strategies. Aggie Bonds are explained in detail, including eligibility and the application process.
View more Aggie Bonds Resources

-Agriculture Finance

Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic PlanMembers only Login
The Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan provides broad recommendations are coupled with specific, actionable strategies. The implementation of this plan is critical to achieving greater agricultural and natural resource resiliency, as well as a secure future for the generations of farmers and ranchers to come.
COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide
USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource matrix organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America.
Tax-Exempt Bond Financing for Beginning and Low-Equity Farmers: The Case of Aggie BondsMembers only Login
Established in the 1980s, the ‘‘Aggie Bond’’ program provides beginning and low-equity farmers with access to capital. The bonds, which pay tax-exempt interest, may be used by qualifying famers for purchases of farm real estate and equipment. The authors use 25 years of data to examine whether the Aggie Bond program has had an impact on farm entrance, land ownership, and the size of operation.
Maximizing Rural Opportunities for Businesses and Communities in WisconsinMembers only Login
Urban communities like Milwaukee and Madison are not the only places looking for help to fund economic development. Wisconsin is filled with rural communities and small towns who are also in need of financing strategies. These areas face unique development financing challenges and needs such as downtown revitalization and talent and business development. Barb LaMue with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation explores the cutting-edge strategies driving development in the state, and how to access them.
View more Agriculture Finance Resources

-Rural Business Finance

Enhancing Local Workforce Development and Building for the Future
Automation, shifting demographics, COVID-19 and increased tele-work opportunities are reshaping the workforce landscape amid shifting industry needs. Counties, through local and regional partnerships and workforce development boards, are working with public, private, and nonprofit partners to help train job seekers and connect them with local employers.
Key Factors and Strategies for Urban and Rural CommunitiesMembers only Login
Through data analysis supported by stakeholder interviews and case studies, this research from the National League of Cities identifies factors that support local engagement in regional economies, how these factors vary for urban and rural places, and whether the benefits of economic connectivity are equitably distributed among places and people in regions.
USDA Resource Guide for Rural Workforce DevelopmentMembers only Login
This guide was created by the USDA in 2021 for community leaders and other local entities. The guide highlights four key assistance types necessary to building a stronger rural workforce: 1) Workforce development planning; 2) Infrastructure and equipment financing; 3) Industry and employer engagement, entrepreneurship, and local business development; and 4) Education, training, and apprenticeship.
Economic Adjustment Assistance: Experts’ Proposed Reform Options to Better Serve Workers Experiencing Economic DisruptionMembers only Login
Federal economic adjustment assistance (EAA) programs were established, in part, to help workers adjust to these economic disruptions. Experts in the GAO's roundtable identified a range of challenges to using EAA programs to effectively respond to economic disruptions workers might experience. In this report, experts identify six reform actions that could better serve workers.
View more Rural Business Finance Resources

-Rural Energy Program

COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide
USDA and its Federal partners have programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance to rural communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This resource matrix organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America.
Financing Programs to Support Rural Development- USDAMembers only Login
Urban communities like Atlanta and Savannah are not the only places looking for help to fund economic development. Georgia is filled with rural communities and small towns that are also in need of financing strategies. These areas face unique development financing challenges and needs such as downtown revitalization, food systems, infrastructure and energy finance. A number of creative and important financing tools exist to assist rural and small town development, Evette Jones from U.S. Department of Agriculture discusses explores the cutting-edge strategies driving development in the state, as well as important programs that have been cut.
State and Federal Development Finance Programs-USDAMembers only Login
Industry experts from around the state and from various federal agencies will discuss development finance programs and their potential to spur job creation and growth in the economic development industry.
CDFA-Stifel Webcast: Paving the Way to Sustainable Rural Infrastructure and Energy FinancingMembers only Login
The various targeted financing solutions to revitalize rural infrastructure and energy systems is explained in this webcast by Gary Bojes, Ph.D. of USDA, Bennett Johnson III of Ocean's Energy, Andrew Jacob with CoBank, and Christopher Sheehan of Stifel.
View more Rural Energy Program Resources

-State Rural Financing Program

NMEDD - Economic Development Innovation Task Force ReportMembers only Login
In 2019, the Governor signed House Memorial 16 directing the Economic Development Department (NMEDD) to bring together stakeholders and convene an Economic Development Innovation Task Force to spur collaboration and innovative discussions on methods to create new economic development concepts and ideas to enhance New Mexico's economy. This report is the result.
Available CFA Resources - New York Regional Economic Development CouncilsMembers only Login
In 2011, Governor Cuomo created ten Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) and the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) to advance the administration’s efforts to improve New York’s business climate and expand economic growth. This 2019 document outlines information about each agency’s grant programs, including eligibility, scoring criteria, applicant requirements, and agency contact information.
Development in Eastern KentuckyMembers only Login
In August, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet announced three grants worth $5 million to spur economic development and job creation in Eastern Kentucky. How might these grants be used locally and are there opportunities for leveraging this for further financing and capital? Bob Scott from the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands discusses the allocation of these funds as well as their impact on the region.
Access to Capital for Native Communities in ArizonaMembers only Login
Clint Kaasa discusses how the USDA provides financing programs and strategies for Native communities in Arizona and considers how to leverage the available capital for even greater investment.
View more State Rural Financing Program Resources

-Case Studies

USDA Resource Guide for Rural Workforce DevelopmentMembers only Login
This guide was created by the USDA in 2021 for community leaders and other local entities. The guide highlights four key assistance types necessary to building a stronger rural workforce: 1) Workforce development planning; 2) Infrastructure and equipment financing; 3) Industry and employer engagement, entrepreneurship, and local business development; and 4) Education, training, and apprenticeship.
CDFA Rural Development Finance Webinar Series: Assembling Capital for Rural Development
During this installment of the CDFA Rural Development Finance Webinar Series, learn about essential financing sources employed by rural communities to complete projects in today’s economy.
Success Factors, Challenges, and Early Impacts of the POWER Initiative: An Implementation EvaluationMembers only Login
This evaluation was designed to help ARC and its stakeholders learn from the POWER Program's implementation successes and challenges; identify technical assistance needs; and report on the qualitative impact of investments made, to date, with POWER funds.
POWER Initiative Evaluation: Factors and Results of Project ImplementationMembers only Login
This report by Chamberlin/Dunn offers an evaluation of two consecutive years (FY19-FY20) of the Appalachian Regional Commission's POWER Initiative. The report aims to understand successes, challenges, and lessons learned through implementation, and it also examines early results of POWER projects.
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-Headlines

-Publications

Cover thumbnail Practitioner's Guide to Economic Development Finance 2nd Edition
The Practitioner's Guide to Economic Development Finance is the only comprehensive resource dedicated to building and utilizing the development finance toolbox.
Cover thumbnail Unlocking Capital: A Handbook for Becoming a High Performing Development Finance Agency
Unlocking Capital: A Handbook for Becoming a High Performing Development Finance Agency (Handbook) serves as a companion to the Practitioner’s Guide to help illuminate the structures of development finance agencies (DFAs), essential conduits to access development finance tools.

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-Training Courses

Intro Rural Finance Course
The Intro Rural Finance Course focuses on how the development finance toolbox can be structured to support rural communities and help them with strategies to invest in infrastructure, redevelopment, and job creation. This course differs from other curriculums in that it focuses on designing programs targeted to serve rural communities.
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-Webcasts

Enhancing Local Workforce Development and Building for the Future
Automation, shifting demographics, COVID-19 and increased tele-work opportunities are reshaping the workforce landscape amid shifting industry needs. Counties, through local and regional partnerships and workforce development boards, are working with public, private, and nonprofit partners to help train job seekers and connect them with local employers.
CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series: Rural Broadband & Telehealth Financing Members only Login
During this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Development Finance Webcast Series, experts explain how rural communities can embrace the challenges of financing high-speed internet for the economic and societal gains provided by broadband.
CDFA Rural Development Finance Webinar Series: Financing Disaster Resiliency in Rural Communities
During the first installment of the CDFA Rural Development Finance Webinar Series, hear about a new technical assistance program from CDFA designed to support rural communities that have recently experienced a natural disaster. Experts discussed the variety of financing tools available from federal, state, and local sources to encourage investment resilient infrastructure.
CDFA - Ice Miller Broadband Financing Series: Case Studies & Best Practices of Broadband in P3s
Public-Private Partnerships, or P3s, have been used across the country to finance broadband. As part of our collaboration with Ice Miller LLP, this video will cover best practices of the P3 model and provide case studies that explore the various avenues of broadband projects in both rural and urban areas.
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CDFA National Sponsors

  • Baker Tilly
  • BNY Mellon
  • Bricker & Eckler LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Business Oregon
  • CohnReznick
  • FBT Project Finance Advisors LLC
  • Frost Brown Todd LLC
  • gener8tor
  • Hawkins Delafield & Wood LLP
  • Ice Miller LLP
  • KeyBanc Capital Markets
  • Kutak Rock LLP
  • McGuireWoods
  • MuniCap, Inc.
  • NW Financial Group, LLC
  • PGAV Planners, LLC
  • SB Friedman Development Advisors
  • Stern Brothers
  • Stifel Nicolaus
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo Securities
  • Z. The Bond Buyer
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