Small Business Policy News

Rep. Fortenberry Witnesses Benefit of USDA Small Business Program

During the August Congressional recess, Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) joined us on a tour of northeast Nebraska small businesses. Staff from the Northeast Nebraska Development District and USDA Rural Development also joined us.

We visited two small businesses to show the benefits of the USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). This program makes money available for rural small businesses through organizations like the Center for Rural Affairs and the development district.

High Poverty Rate Persists on the Great Plains

The Center’s newest report on the 2010 Census – Poverty on the Great Plains – shows poverty rates are generally higher in rural portions of the study area. The report looked at county-level poverty rates in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and portions of Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming.

Among states in the region, only Iowa’s rural counties had lower poverty rates than the other two county types.

Cutting Paperwork in Rural Development Programs

The paperwork burdens of USDA rural development programs have grown to the point that some small towns don’t even consider applying. At the same time, top USDA officials are complaining that recent staffing cuts have left them with too few people to administer their programs.

These two problems share a common solution – simplify programs so it’s easier for rural communities to apply, and USDA staff can spend less time sifting through paper.

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