Investing in Small Business Development

A policy idea hatched at the Center for Rural Affairs and enacted as part of the 2008 farm bill is helping lift up small businesses across the nation and helping rural people rebuild our economy and strengthen our communities.
In only two years of operation, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program at USDA has awarded grants for business training and loan capital to 83 small business development organizations in 38 states across the country.

The combined awards total more than $9 million in grant funds and nearly $30 million in low-interest loan capital invested in organizations engaged in business training, technical assistance and lending to low and moderate-income rural entrepreneurs.

These new resources would not exist without grassroots supporters who called and wrote letters of support during the last farm bill debate. From Oregon to Michigan to North Carolina and points in between, small businesses are benefiting because of grassroots leaders.

Small business development organizations can submit applications for funding on a quarterly basis. We are also working with USDA and with Congress to make changes to the program, strengthen its operations and renew its funding.

If you are a small business owner looking for training, technical assistance or financing, there is a directory (http://fieldus.org/Publications/2008/index.html) to find a program in your area. If there is a development organization in your area that you think should apply, contact the Center for Rural Affairs for help recruiting them.

For more information on the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, visit: http://www.cfra.org/renewrural/federal-micro-program

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