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Thursday, July 1, 2004

Public Invited to Comment on Credit Law's Effect

The Federal Reserve Board is seeking public comment on issues related to "prescreened" solicitations for credit or insurance. The comments, due by July 23, will help the Board prepare a study and present a report to Congress in December.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, creditors and insurers may use certain consumer reports to prescreen consumers before sending them unsolicited credit or insurance offers (so-called "prescreened" solicitations). Consumers may block the solicitations by directing consumer-reporting agencies to exclude them from lists the agencies provide to creditors or insurers.

The Board's study will examine how well the blocking mechanism works and the potential impact of any further restrictions on such solicitations.

Information on how to submit comments is available at Click on "News and Events" and then "All Press Releases." Scroll down to the May 18 press release on prescreened solicitations for credit or insurance.

Rural Businesses Eligible for 2004 Energy Grants

Agricultural producers and rural small businesses can compete for up to $22.8 million in grant funds for fiscal year 2004. The money is earmarked for energy improvements and the purchase of renewable energy systems.

To be eligible for the grant, an applicant must demonstrate financial need, and the grant request must not exceed 25 percent of the eligible project costs. Applications for grants must be postmarked by July 19. The Rural Development division of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the grant program.

Eligibility requirements, technical guidance, state USDA Rural Development offices and the full text of the announcement for funds availability are posted on the Farmbill 9006 Resources web site at

Foundation Offers $8 Million to Rural Collaboratives

Interested groups have until Aug. 13 to apply for $8 million in grants to foster entrepreneurial activity in rural areas.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation will award grants of up to $2 million each to four rural regional entrepreneurship development collaboratives. Each collaborative will be required to promote entrepreneurship in its region, produce entrepreneurial models for other communities, leverage significant investment, and stimulate state and national interest in rural entrepreneurship policies and strategies.

Applicants must be willing to form a collaborative with other groups, which can be private, governmental or nonprofit. The collaboration must include a lead organization, such as a university or community development financial institution.

Awards will be announced in March 2005. More information can be found on the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's web site at

Grants Help Refugees Resettle in America

The Services to Recently Arrived Refugees Program offers grants of approximately $50,000 to $200,000 to public and private nonprofit organizations working to resettle refugees. The grants can be used for case management and to help refugees find jobs and housing.

"Preferred communities"—those that receive at least 100 refugees each year and that can help refugees become employed—will receive funding priority status.

Information and applications for grants can be obtained from Sue Benjamin, Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. Contact her by calling (202) 401-4851 or e-mailing

SBA, USDA Work Together on Rural Investment Program

The Rural Business Investment Program is designed to create jobs and promote economic development by encouraging venture capital investments in rural enterprises. Authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, the investment program was launched last fall with the announcement of a collaboration between the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The program provides up to $280 million in guaranteed debentures and another $44 million in grants for technical assistance to licensed rural business investment companies that make venture capital investments in rural business.

The agreement calls for the SBA to provide its expertise in venture capital financing and to manage operation of the program, and for the USDA to reimburse the SBA for its work.

For more information, visit the Public Programs section of Community Development Venture Capital Alliance's web site at