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The 2002 Farm Bill created the new Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP), designed to promote developmental venture capital investments in smaller enterprises located in rural areas.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) signed a collaborative agreement to implement RBIP. Under the agreement, the USDA enlists SBA’s expertise in venture capital financing and reimburses SBA for carrying out the day-to-day management and operation of the program.
Currently, only one venture fund has been licensed under the program Meritus Ventures, which makes investments in rural areas throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
To find out if your business is located in a qualified rural area for purposes of the RBIC program, please use the SBA’s mapping tool.