Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An Investment in Rural America

An Investment in Rural America

By John Crabtree,

In the rural Great Plains, nearly 70 percent of job growth in the 1990s came from people creating their own job by starting a small business.

The Center’s Rural Enterprise Assistance Program provides a model for all of rural America. We have helped over 4,000 rural small businesses by providing loans, technical assistance, and training – with funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Nebraska is the only state where such SBA funded services are available statewide, but we are still unable to reach all the rural entrepreneurs that could benefit. The farm bill should provide $40 million annually through new USDA programs for research and education on rural entrepreneurship; community grants to foster entrepreneurial development; and funding for small business loans, technical assistance, training, and other initiatives to support entrepreneurship across rural America.

Current public resources do not meet the entrepreneurial demand in many communities, and those that do exist, especially federal programs, are in a constant defensive posture to salvage their existence from the annual circus of proposed cuts and last minute, downsized funding.

According to the National Association for the Self-Employed, personal savings and credit cards are the primary sources of start-up capital for 70 percent of microentrepreneurs and only six percent employed loans from financial institutions or the government.

Rural entrepreneurship is where “the rubber meets the road” in rural economic development. Rural entrepreneurs emptying savings accounts and maxing out credit cards to startup their business is poor public policy. It is time for a better investment in rural America.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    right you are John, right you are!
    it's not just that the g-men don't spend their money out here (which they don't very often) but when they do their stupid about it and all the money goes to the big guy trying to farm the whole damn county

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger Becky McCray said…

    Amen! Small business is huge in rural areas. Resources and assistance can make a huge difference, if smartly implemented. The resources rural areas do receive vary wildly in quality and quantity.

    Thanks for bringing up an important issue.

    Becky McCray
    Small Biz Survival


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