Funding will help rural entities regain their footing

Small Towns

With their approval of several key pieces of legislation, Nebraska lawmakers solidified the importance of small entrepreneurs, local meat processors, and family farms to our state’s economy and way of life. 

Their support also preserves a healthy future for rural Nebraska. 

Entering this legislative session, lawmakers faced tough decisions regarding how to spend the state’s allotment of recovery funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. For rural senators, priorities included support for small town entrepreneurship and funding for a program to allow small- and medium-sized meat processors to keep up with an historic increase in demand for their services.

The Legislature’s approval of $10 million for the Independent Processor Assistance Program (IPAP) follows up on a commitment made in 2021, when Legislative Bill 324 was unanimously approved. The program will provide financial assistance for buildings, equipment, technology, and workforce training.

The Legislature also increased the amount of funding made available to the Microenterprise Assistance Program from $2 million to $3 million. This ensures that community lenders, such as the Center for Rural Affairs, can continue to provide needed loans and no-cost technical assistance to entrepreneurs to start or grow their business. 

The Legislature also made a change to the size of loans these community lenders can make—from $100,000 to $150,000. This will make a world of difference to main street business owners by cutting down on paperwork and removing the need for many to seek secondary sources of funding to complete basic business loans. 

For the industries that help make rural Nebraska strong, the past two years have been anything but easy. From forced closures to supply chain disruptions, entrepreneurs have seen a new challenge at every turn. Together, these successful  pieces of legislation will provide some much needed stability as they work to regain their footing.