By John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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