Commentary: Proven program helps create rural jobs
In two short years the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP), administered through USDA, has proven to be a solid job creator in rural America. The program provides loan capital and technical assistance grants to small business development organizations to make loans and provide support to startup and existing rural businesses.
RMAP loan funds can be used to purchase real estate and allow for a loan term of up to 10 years. They are filling a previously unmet financial need.
The Center for Rural Affairs' Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) received an RMAP award in December 2010. In less than a year, REAP placed 14 loans totaling $559,000, creating 18 jobs, and saving 9 jobs. The entrepreneurs receiving these loans were unable to receive financing through traditional sources.
More than 90 small business development organizations in 40 states have received awards under the program.
Unfortunately, Congress passed the bill that cuts funding for the program.
The impact of this move is that hundreds of entrepreneurs will not receive the loans or training from this otherwise successful program. For some, it may mean closing their doors.
The good news is that the program still exists, and existing loans are already helping rural entrepreneurs.
The program can continue to make a positive impact for small businesses. When rural entrepreneurs have the skills and funds to make their ventures successful, they create the jobs we need for a healthy economy and vibrant communities. Congress can do their part by restoring funding for the program.
Based in Lyons, Nebraska, the Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as an unaffiliated nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)3. The center was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and works to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.