Business Builder
Subaward Grant Program

A brand-new, regionally-managed funding opportunity made available by USDA through its 12 Regional Food Business Centers.

New Opportunity

Strengthen the viability of your business and overcome barriers to market access and expansion.

This funding program is designed to support development of farm and food businesses serving local and regional markets.

Business Builder Subaward grants are integrated with business counseling offered by Heartland Regional Food Business Center partners across Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Contact us to connect with a Heartland Center business counselor.

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Available for a Limited time

The Business Builder Subaward Grant Program will launch in
late-2024 and run until 2027. 

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Eligible Entities

Here are some basics to help you decide if a Business Builder Subaward grant may be an opportunity for your farm or food business:

Small- and mid-scale farm, ranch, and value-added food businesses producing in, sourcing from, and focused on local and regional markets.

Food processors, aggregators, distributors, and retailers that source locally and/or serve multiple small- and mid-scale food and farm businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Underinvested businesses and geographic areas
  • Farm businesses making value-added products out of what they produce and/or source from nearby producers in their region
  • Food businesses sourcing/trying to increase the ingredients they source locally
  • Businesses and projects with a focus on fair and ethical labor practices, community benefit, and/or environmental sustainability with clearly defined outcomes related to those benefits
  • Business planning, feasibility studies, preparing loan applications
  • Local food aggregation and distribution or food hub development
  • Developing brand and marketing materials, including websites
  • Market analysis, brokering services, and outreach to potential customers
  • Marketing materials and supplies, and attendance at trade shows focused on local or regional markets
  • Developing new products, labels, or packaging, including testing new formulations or recipes
  • Improving processing, marketing, and distribution
  • Legal support for business resilience, market risk management, and growth
  • Training in food safety planning compliance for owners and/or employees
  • Worker safety improvements, such as training staff, purchasing safety equipment
  • Creating or expanding a farm stand, U-Pick, CSA, or other farm-direct sales platform
  • Hiring outside business services and expertise, including consultants and mentors (Note that USDA generally caps rates at $65/hour, with some exceptions.)
  • Paying current staff to work on the project beyond roles they normally hold with the operation
  • Supplies for the project.
  • Equipment for the project – purchase or lease. For example:

  • Internet and computer access, software, other information technology platforms/investments
  • Incubator and commissary kitchen equipment and dry/cold storage capacity
  • Cold storage: walk in, reach in refrigerators, freezers
  • Packaging and labeling equipment

  • Projects related to growing fruits and vegetables or raising livestock.
  • Projects related to meat and poultry slaughter and initial processing (value-added products beyond boxed meat, such as pemmican, jerkies, stews, and ready-to-eat meals are allowable.)
  • Purchase of land or buildings
  • Construction costs (with some exceptions, for example installing allowable equipment such as coolers)
  • The Business Builder grant application will be available in Spanish.
  • Applications submitted in Spanish will be accepted.
subject to USDA approval

Anticipated Grant Parameters:

Award Range: $5,000 to $50,000

No match or cost-share required.

Reporting requirements may vary and will depend on the size and complexity of the project. We’ll keep it as simple and straightforward as we can.