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Rural Economic Development Resource Directory

This directory provides descriptions and contact information for a number of organizations and websites that can provide resources to national banks and federal savings associations interested in lending, investing, or providing retail financial services in rural communities.

These activities are organized under the following:

U.S. Department of the Treasury

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund
The Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund stimulates the creation and expansion of CDFIs. It offers resources and innovative programs that invest federal funds alongside private sector capital, which is a new source of capital for neighborhoods that lack access to financing. Also refer to the OCC’s Community Developments Fact Sheet titled Bank Partnerships With Community Development Financial Institutions and Benefits of CDFI Certification.


Commercial Lending in Indian Country: Potential Opportunities in a Growing Market
This Community Developments Insight report discusses the unique opportunities and challenges of lending in Indian Country and provides banks with background on the market, regulatory considerations, and best practices by successful lenders. The report addresses the factors that make lending in Indian Country attractive for banks.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA administers direct loan and loan guarantee programs for developing and expanding small businesses.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development

USDA Rural Development provides business programs that work through partnerships with public and private community-based organizations and banks to provide financial assistance, business development and technical assistance to rural businesses.

National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs

These programs provide national representation for states that operate finance programs for farmers, ranchers, and the agricultural industry. For example, through the Aggie Bond program, the participating state coordinates the creation of a bond that allows lenders to earn federally tax exempt interest income on loans to eligible beginning farmers and ranchers.


Federal Home Loan Bank Programs for Community Development Finance
This Community Developments Fact Sheet discusses opportunities that banks may consider for community development finance provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank System.

Historic Tax Credits: Bringing New Life to Older Communities
This Community Development Insights report describes how the Historic Tax Credit program operates, outlines the risks and regulatory considerations of program participation, and discusses how investments in these transactions may be considered under the Community Reinvestment Act. Refer to the Community Developments Fact Sheet titled Historic Tax Credits.

New Markets Tax Credits
This Community Developments Fact Sheet describes new markets tax credits and how banks can use the tax credits to support community and economic development activities. Refer to the Community Developments Insights report titled New Markets Tax Credits: Unlocking Investment Potential.

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Perspectives From Main Street: Bank Branch Access in Rural Communities
This report contributes to the public’s understanding of trends in the banking industry. The report analyzes which communities across the country have been affected by bank branch closings; highlights how consumer groups and small businesses use branches; and addresses how communities are affected when their local bank branches close.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Food Environment Atlas
The Economic Research Service’s Food Environment Atlas provides data on food access by U.S. counties. Specifically, the atlas provides data on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality. The atlas also provides an overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so.

Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge
This Rural Development program provides funds through cooperative agreements for eligible entities to help provide planning support, technical assistance, and training to foster placemaking activities in rural communities.

Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program
Rural Development partners with private lenders to finance essential public facilities in rural areas, equipment purchases, and other project related expenses. Borrowers under this program are public entities, such as municipalities, counties, special-purpose districts, nonprofit organizations, and tribal governments.

Other Resources

National Main Street Center
The center, a program under the nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation, is committed to preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

Project for Public Spaces
This nonprofit organization provides grants, training, and technical assistance to support the well-being of communities through public spaces. The organization helps community groups through every step of the process to make public spaces more impactful in their communities.

Healthy Food Access
The organization connects community leaders, healthy food retailers, policymakers, and advocates to an extensive array of resources, strategies, and ideas to improve and increase access to healthy foods. PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and the Reinvestment Fund created the nation’s first comprehensive healthy food access retail portal and learning community designed to promote healthy food retail efforts in regions across the country.

Guaranteed Farm Loans
The Farm Service Agency guarantees loans made by banks and other financial institutions to purchase farms and for farm operations. The agency can guarantee up to 90 percent of the loan amount.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans
The agency makes and guarantees loans to beginning farmers and ranchers who are unable to obtain financing from commercial lenders.

Farmer Mac
Farmer Mac, which stands for Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, is chartered by the federal government to serve as a secondary market for first mortgage agricultural real estate loans. Congress created Farmer Mac in 1988 to expand availability of mortgage credit to U.S. farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners, businesses, and communities. USDA’s Risk Management Agency provides crop insurance for U.S. farmers and ranchers and provides resources and tools for farmers and ranchers.

Rural Community Assistance Corporation
This nonprofit organization advocates for and provides training and technical and financial resources to rural communities to help them achieve their goals and visions.

Rural Community Assistance Partnership
This national network of nonprofit partners works to provide technical assistance, training, resources, and support to rural communities, the U.S. territories, and tribal lands.

Rural Development
This financial program supports the development of essential public facilities and services, including the following:


Telecommunications programs: USDA provides a variety of funding programs for for-profit and nonprofit organizations, tribes, municipalities, and cooperatives to build and expand broadband networks. USDA loans help to build broadband networks and deliver service to rural households and businesses, provide capital for rural telecommunications companies, broadband providers, wireless companies, and fiber-to-the-home providers. Grants are reserved for communities with the highest need. Telecommunications Programs offered include the following:

Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program: This program provides funding for rural projects through local utility organizations. The program provides zero-interest loans to local utilities that they pass through to local businesses that are the intended recipients for projects designed to create and retain employment in rural areas.

Economic Development Administration
The Economic Development Administration’s investment policy is designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States. The Economic Development Administration encourages its partners around the country to develop initiatives that advance new ideas and creative approaches to address rapidly evolving economic conditions.

  • Public Works program helps distressed communities revitalize, expand, and upgrade their physical infrastructures. The program enables communities to attract new industry; encourage business expansion; diversify local economies; and generate or retain long-term, private-sector jobs and investment through the acquisition or development of land and infrastructure improvements needed for the successful establishment or expansion of industrial or commercial enterprises.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is responsible by law for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. This agency’s programs focus on expanding broadband internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and helping to ensure that the internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

The FCC regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. The FCC produces a Broadband Deployment Report.

  • FCC National Broadband Map: The map, administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, provides information on broadband technology, speed, and fixed residential providers by address nationwide.
  • Measuring Broadband America: This program is a national study of broadband service in the United States. The program was derived from a recommendation by the National Broadband Plan to improve the availability of information for consumers about their broadband services.
  • Getting Broadband Questions and Answers:This guide provides basic information about broadband, the different types, how it works, and how consumers might get broadband to their communities.

Other Resources

Gaps in Broadband Access and Usage: A Rural and Urban CRA Opportunity: This Federal Reserve of St. Louis report describes how governmental entities and the private sector have worked to expand broadband access throughout the United States.

Community Broadband Networks: The nonprofit Institute for Local Self-Reliance provides innovative strategies, working models, and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development.

National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors: The association’s mission is to support and serve the communications interests and needs of local governments.

National Digital Inclusion Alliance disseminates financial and operational resources for digital inclusion programs while serving as a bridge between policymakers and the public.

Next Century Cities supports local officials and community leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that everyone has fast, affordable and reliable internet access.

Broadband Communities is an online publication featuring articles about providing broadband technologies for buildings and communities. The publication focuses on residential buildings, developments, and municipalities.


Low-income housing tax credits: The OCC's Tax Credit Resource Directory page provides links to a sampling of organizations to help banks interested in investing and lending to federal tax credit projects.

  • Community Developments Insights report titled Low-Income Housing Tax Credits: Affordable Housing Investment Opportunities for Banks describes how LIHTCs are used to develop affordable rental housing and how banks can benefit from investing in LIHTC-financed projects. The report outlines risks and regulatory considerations of LIHTC investments and describes how these investments would be considered under the Community Reinvestment Act.

The Community Developments Investments titled Expanding Housing Opportunities: Single-Family Rehabilitation Financing Programs highlights how minority, low-income, and distressed communities benefit from bank lending and federal loan programs. The publication also points to OCC guidance on targeted higher-loan-to-value lending programs.

The Community Developments Investments titled Preserving Affordable Housing: Innovative Partnerships describes the innovative approaches to help preserve the nation’s supply of affordable multifamily rental properties, ranging from predevelopment financing to new debt products and mission-driven equity investment structures.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The Community Developments Investments titled Housing Financing in Indian Country: Spotlight on HUD’s Title VI Program spotlights HUD’s Title VI Loan Guarantee Program, which provides an additional source of funding for Indian tribes receiving federal Indian Housing Block Grants for affordable housing activities.

The Community Developments Fact Sheet titled FHA’s 203(k) Loan Program explains how the program enables homebuyers and homeowners throughout the country to finance the purchase or refinancing of a house and the cost of its rehabilitation through a single mortgage.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Community Developments Fact Sheet titled Rural Housing Service Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program explains how the Rural Housing Service (RHS) guarantees qualifying mortgages made by RHS-approved banks.

The Community Developments Fact Sheet titled Multifamily Rural Housing Finance Program explains how the RHS guarantees qualifying multifamily housing loans made by RHS-approved banks.

The Community Developments Fact Sheet titled U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Home Loan Guaranty Program explains how this program helps eligible veterans, current service members, and their survivors obtain, retain, and modify their homes. A key product offered by the program is the Veterans Affairs-guaranteed home loan benefit.

Other Resources

Council for Affordable and Rural Housing
The council is a national nonprofit organization for participants in the affordable rural housing professions.

Housing Assistance Council
This national nonprofit organization supports affordable housing efforts throughout rural America. The council provides below-market financing for affordable housing and community development, technical assistance and training, research and information, and policy formulation to enable solutions for rural communities.

NeighborWorks America Rural Initiative
The Rural Initiative provides funding to community development corporations and local nonprofit organizations in over 75 rural communities across the country.

National Rural Housing Coalition
The coalition works to focus policymakers on the needs of rural areas and coordinates a network of rural housing advocates around the nation. Refer to the 2021 Impact Report.

Federal Reserve Banks

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta provides the Small City Economic Dynamism Index to help policymakers and practitioners gain more nuanced perspectives. The index ranks 816 small and midsized U.S. cities across 13 indicators of economic dynamism in four categories: demographics, economics, human capital, and infrastructure.


The following OCC Community Developments publications provide financial institutions with information on other programs that are specifically designed for rural areas.


Rural America at a Glance, 2021
The Economic Research Service’s report addresses resiliency and recovery of rural communities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including population and employment change, intensity of infection and vaccination rates, and internet availability and adoption.

Food Access Research Atlas
USDA has defined a food desert as a census tract with a substantial share of residents who live in low-income areas that have low levels of access to a grocery store or a healthy, affordable food retail outlet. The atlas provides statistics on food choices, health and well-being, and other information about communities in the United States.

Rural Classifications
The Economic Research Service has developed several classifications to measure rurality and assess the economic and social diversity of rural America. The Rural-Urban Continuum Codes, the Urban-Influence Codes, and the Rural-Urban Commuting Areas classify counties, census tracts, and zip codes by degree of rurality. State Fact Sheets provide information on population, income, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports for each state in the United States.

National Rural Development Partnership (NRDP) (PDF)
The USDA administers this national initiative, which uses state collaboratives to bring together key rural participants to address critical rural community concerns. The partnership highlights effective strategies for rural community and economic development and maintains a web clearinghouse on rural development.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture
The institute finds innovative solutions to issues related to agriculture food, the environment, and communities. For example, the institute sponsors, the Cooperative Extension Service, which is designed to help individuals and families build financial assets instead of debt. The Cooperative Extension Service provides research-based information and education via courses, web-based curriculums, and other educational outlets for people to acquire knowledge, skills, and motivation to build financial security.

State Rural Development Offices
The state offices’ contact list provides financial institutions with well-informed rural development professionals.

Other Resources

National Community Reinvestment Coalition
Refer to the coalition’s Rural Communities and Several Major Urban Areas Bear Brunt of Bank Branch Closures Since Financial Crisis With Emergency of 86 New “Banking Deserts.” From 2008-2016, there were 86 new banking deserts created in rural areas. (Banking deserves are service gaps where there are no banks within 10 miles of populated areas.)

U.S. Census Bureau
Refer to the bureau’s Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data: What Users of Data for Rural Areas Need to Know. The survey provides a detailed portrait of the social, economic, housing, and demographic characteristics—including the characteristics of people and households in rural areas—of America’s communities.

Housing Assistance Council
The council’s Rural Data Portal provides information on the social, economic, and housing characteristics of communities in the United States. The portal provides over 350 data indicators for rural communities. Most of the information provided comes from the council’s tabulations of the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, the American Community Survey, and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data.

National Association of Development Organizations
This organization is a membership association that provides a network for its members to share ideas and innovative projects through its Economic Development Digest, which highlights best practices in rural economic development.

National Rural Housing Coalition
Refer to the coalition’s Rural America's Rental Housing Crisis: Federal Strategies to Preserve Access to Affordable Rental Housing in Rural Communities, which documents the successes of USDA’s rental housing programs and the challenges facing them now.

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