(a) Establishment of submission procedures. USDA will establish a time period and procedure for the submission of applications for designation as empowerment zones or enterprise communities, including submission deadlines and addresses, in a notice inviting applications or other applicable notice, to be published in the Federal Register.
(b) Acceptance for processing. USDA will accept for processing those applications as empowerment zones and enterprise communities which USDA determines have met the criteria required under this part. USDA will notify the states and local governments whether or not the nomination has been accepted for processing. The application must be received by USDA on or before the close of business on the date established by the notice inviting applications or other applicable notice published in the Federal Register. The applications must be complete, inclusive of the strategic plan, as required by § 25.202, and the certifications and written assurances required by § 25.200(b).
(c) Site visits. In the process of reviewing each application accepted for processing, USDA may undertake site visits to any nominated area to aid in the process of evaluation.
(d) Modification of the strategic plan, boundaries of nominated rural areas, or period during the application review period. Subject to the limitations imposed by § 25.100.
(1) USDA may request additional information pertaining to the strategic plan and proposed area and may, as a part of that request, suggest modifications to the strategic plan or nominated area that would enhance the effectiveness of the strategic plan;
(2) Enlargement of a nominated area will not be allowed if the inclusion of the additional area will result in an average poverty rate less than the average poverty rate at the time of initial application; and
(3) An applicant may modify the nominated area or strategic plan during the application review period with USDA approval.
(e) Designations. Final determination of the boundaries of areas and the term for which the designations will remain in effect will be made by the Secretary.