Local Economic Assistance & Development Support (LEADS)

LEADS is a funding program for economic development projects that produce sustainable outcomes. In fiscal year 2016, the Certified Communities Initiative (CCI) evolved into the LEADS program. The funding provided through LEADS is intended to create jobs through recruitment, retention/expansion, and startup activities, develop the tax base, and provide incentives for business development. LEADS applications are evaluated based on these objectives.

Projects are awarded $5,000 to $25,000 per year and funded through a cost-reimbursement contract. EDD reimburses the applicant for work performed and/or costs incurred, up to the total amount specified in the grant. Reimbursement are made upon completion of the project and submittal of a project report.

FY 2025 LEADS Application Deadline Changed to May 24!

LEADS FY24 Applications:

Eligible Applicants:

  • Are part of an economic development effort that includes both public and private participation and can demonstrate their capacity to facilitate economic growth
  • Have an up-to-date community economic development plan and a marketing plan that supports business development and job growth
  • Have passed the Local Economic Development Act in their region, and, ideally, a Local Option Gross Receipts Tax for economic development; or have enacted other economic development financing tools in your service area

Eligible Projects:

  • Achieve specific economic development objectives of job creation, expansion of tax base, and/or business development through measurable outcomes
  • Are consistent with the community’s adopted economic development plan
  • Have a clear beginning and end
  • Have an appropriate budget and timeline
FY25 Key Dates:

April 25, 2024: FY25 Kick-Off Webinar, 1-2pm. Attendance is encouraged but not mandatory, applicants must meet with their Regional Rep to determine eligibility.
April 25, 2024: Online applications open. Regional Reps will send a link to the online application once eligibility has been determined.
May 24, 2024: Online applications and presentations due by 5 pm MT.
June 5-7, 2024: Project presentations (virtual). SBDC representatives will serve on the review committee.
June 17, 2024: Funding recommendations will be submitted to EDD Cabinet Secretary for consideration and final decision.
Week of June 17, 2024: Regional Reps will send out notices of awards and denials, grant agreements, and award packets.
July 1, 2024: Awarded projects may begin work July 1, 2024, or as soon as the grant agreement is fully executed if fully executed after July 1, 2024.
June 16, 2025: Awarded projects must be completed. Final invoices and end-of-year report are due.

The LEADS Program is administered by the Community, Business and Rural Development Team (aka Regional Reps). Team members work with communities to identify projects and prepare the LEADS application.