Understanding USDA B&I Loan Underwriting: Key Criteria and Requirements

Jun 29, 2024


The USDA Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Program is designed to bolster economic growth in rural areas by providing financial support to businesses. Understanding the underwriting process is crucial for businesses looking to secure these loans. This blog explores the key criteria and requirements involved in USDA B&I loan underwriting.

**Purpose of USDA B&I Loans**

The primary goal of the USDA B&I Loan Program is to improve the economic health of rural communities by enhancing access to business capital. This helps create jobs, support business growth, and improve the overall quality of life in these areas.

**Key Underwriting Criteria**

1. **Eligibility Requirements**
   - **Location**: Businesses must be located in eligible rural areas, typically with a population of 50,000 or less.
   - **Business Structure**: Both for-profit and non-profit entities can qualify, including corporations, partnerships, cooperatives, and federally recognized tribes.
   - **Job Creation/Retention**: The project must demonstrate potential to create or retain jobs in the rural area.

2. **Financial Health**

   - **Creditworthiness**: The business must exhibit a strong credit history. Lenders will evaluate the business's credit score, payment history, and current debt obligations.
   - **Cash Flow**: Demonstrated ability to generate sufficient cash flow to meet debt service requirements is crucial. Lenders will scrutinize past financial statements and future cash flow projections.

3. **Collateral**

   - **Adequate Security**: The loan must be fully secured. Acceptable collateral can include business assets such as real estate, equipment, inventory, and accounts receivable. Personal guarantees may also be required.
   - **Collateral Value**: The value of the collateral must be sufficient to cover the loan amount. Independent appraisals may be necessary to determine accurate valuations.

4. **Equity Contribution**

   - **Owner Investment**: Business owners must invest their own equity into the project. Typically, a minimum of 10-20% equity contribution is required, demonstrating the owner’s commitment to the venture.

5. **Business Plan and Feasibility**

   - **Comprehensive Business Plan**: A detailed business plan outlining the project's scope, objectives, market analysis, and financial projections is essential. This demonstrates the feasibility and sustainability of the project.
   - **Feasibility Study**: In some cases, a third-party feasibility study may be required to validate the project’s potential for success.

**Application Process**

1. **Preliminary Assessment**: Initial discussions with lenders to assess basic eligibility and loan feasibility.
2. **Document Preparation**: Compile necessary documents including financial statements, business plans, and collateral details.
3. **Submission and Review**: Submit the loan application to the lender, who will conduct a thorough review and underwriting process.
4. **Approval and Funding**: Upon approval, the loan is closed, and funds are disbursed to support the business project.


Securing a USDA B&I loan involves meeting specific underwriting criteria and requirements designed to ensure the viability and success of the business project. Atlantic Commercial offers the expertise and guidance needed to navigate the complexities of the USDA B&I loan underwriting process, ensuring that businesses have the support they need to succeed.

rural business