Opportunities

Agriculture Opportunities and Value-Added Partnership Act

The Agriculture Opportunities and Value-Added Partnership Act reauthorizes a value-added grant program, providing grants up to $75,000 to cooperatives, groups or associations to help offset the costs of research, education, training and market development of value-added products sold by producers.

Rules and Regulations – Application

LB 90 was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on May 25, 2005 and signed into law by Governor Dave Heineman. LB 90 makes available $850,000 per year for two fiscal years (FY 2006-2007 and FY 2007-2008) for projects which:

Support small enterprise formation in the agricultural sector of Nebraska’s rural economy, including innovative cooperative efforts for value-added enterprises; Support the development of agricultural communities and economic opportunity through innovative partnerships among farming and ranching operations, rural communities, and businesses for the development of value-added agricultural products; Encourage collaboration between farming and ranching operations and between farming and ranching operations and communities, government, and businesses as well as between communities and regions; Strengthen the value-added production industry by promoting strategic partnerships and networks through multigroup cooperation for the creation of employment opportunities in the value-added agriculture industry; Enhance the income and opportunity for farming and ranching operations in Nebraska in order to stem the decline in their numbers;
Increase the farming and ranching operations’ share of the food-system profit; and Enhance opportunities for farming and ranching operations to participate in electronic commerce and new and emerging markets that strengthen rural economic opportunities.

Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act

Also part of LB 90 is the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act which provides grants of up to $75,000 to rural communities to implement collaborative projects addressing issues related to chronic economic distress, unemployment, lower-than-average per capita income and severe population loss.

Application Guidelines

Purpose of Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act (BECA)
The purpose of the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Program is to support economically depressed rural areas of Nebraska in building entrepreneurial communities through grants that will create community capacity to build and sustain programs to generate and retain wealth in the community and region.

The Department of Economic Development (DED), with assistance provided by the Rural Development Commission, shall establish and administer a grant process to provide grants to two or more municipalities or counties that are collaborating on a project related to the purpose of the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Program with priority given to projects that best alleviate chronic economic distress.

Eligible Applicants
Eligible applicants include every local government (municipality or county). At least two local governments must collaborate on the project. At least one of the local governments must have chronic economic distress as indicated by:

An unemployment rate which exceeds the statewide average unemployment rate;
A per capita income below the statewide average per capita income; or
Severe historical population loss, which means a population loss of ten percent or more over a twenty-year period of time.

Eligible Activities
Eligible activities must be projects that address one of the following:

Provide education and technical assistance to energize small business development and entrepreneurship
Provide technical assistance to facilitate small business transfer;
Build community business capacity and leadership programs;
Generate opportunities that will attract and retain young people and families;
Provide education about philanthropy and intergenerational transfer of wealth; and
Build community endowments to support these activities.

Match Requirements
Grant recipients shall provide a dollar-for-dollar cash match. Matching funds shall be from sources other than state and federal programs.

Funding Levels
The maximum amount for an award per collaboration project is $75,000. A total of $250,000 has been allocated for this program. There will be more demand for funds than there are funds available, therefore, it is not anticipated that the maximum will be awarded for a project. Grant recipients have two years to expend the grant funds. No municipality or county shall receive funding for more than one project.

Ethanol Production Incentive Cash Fund Enhancement

The Ethanol Production Incentive Cash Fund Enhancement increases the excise tax on corn and grain sorghum for purposes of funding ethanol incentives from ¾ cent to 7/8 cents, and appropriates additional general funds for this purpose. Download Nebraska Advantage Brochure