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Center for Rural Affairs

Federal Support for Rural Small Businesses Makes Cents

September 23, 2009
Traer Star-Clipper

By Brian Depew,, Center for Rural Affairs

Small business is the backbone of rural America. Investing in small business development is the most critical step our leaders in Washington can take to create genuine opportunity in our small towns.

Small businesses with ten or fewer employees are economic building blocks that can help rebuild our economy, providing immediate economic stimulus and planting the seeds of long term rural revitalization. Consider, during the recession earlier in this decade, employment fell among large employers but grew among small businesses.

Recognizing the importance of these small businesses, the 2008 farm bill created the new Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to provide funding for loans, training and assistance to rural small businesses.

The program is a valuable resource for rural America, but woefully underfunded at just $4 million for the entire nation. That's just five dollars for every $1,000,000 injected in big banks to solve the nation's financial crisis.

President Obama proposed increasing funding for this rural small business program to $26 million. Over the summer, the Senate passed a spending bill that would increase funding for rural small business development. The House passed a bill that does not increase funding for the program.

In the coming month congressional leaders will meet to hammer out their differences, and rural America will be stronger if the Senate's plan to increase funding this program prevails. The increase would also be a start on reversing the bias against small rural businesses in economic policy.

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The Center for Rural Affairs was established in 1973 as an unaffiliated nonprofit corporation under IRS code 501(c)3. The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities, and we work to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.



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