To the editor:
Small business development is important in rural areas of our nation, where access to employment opportunities are limited and where jobs pay less.
Microbusinesses (businesses with 10 or fewer employees) provide all or most of the income for many rural households. In our home state of Nebraska, self-employment provides up to 90% of all jobs in most rural counties. For others, it is part of a patching strategy to make ends meet.
However, access to capital is a challenge for many rural business owners. When traditional bank financing isn’t an option, entrepreneurs turn to financial intermediaries to fill the gap. These intermediaries are community-based institutions that work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture or U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide financial assistance and business counseling.
The number of federal programs available to small businesses has increased over the past 18 months, which requires development of new rules and regulations on a frequent basis. Providing these intermediaries with up-to-date information at the ready is important. Access to a consistent, rural-focused resource helps ensure rural businesses have the support they need.
That is why we support increased outreach to the entrepreneurs, business owners, and economic development officials that support rural communities. For example, staffing the SBA Office of Rural Affairs would ensure that stakeholders know where to go with a question or concern.
With new business starts at an all-time high, demand for technical assistance will grow. Let’s do what we can to ensure these businesses remain successful for years to come.
Center for Rural Affairs Women's Business Center director
Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.