Small businesses continue to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. While they are doing their best to keep the doors open, they are hurting. That is especially true in our rural towns.
Congress has acted to provide businesses with loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA) six months of payment forgiveness. This is a lifeline for big city enterprises, but it doesn’t help rural entrepreneurs. That is because many rural businesses do not have access to an SBA lender and must borrow from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program instead.
On Aug. 6, a bipartisan measure—the Rural Equal Aid (REA) Act—was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA). The legislation would provide six months of principal, interest, and payment fee forgiveness to businesses with loans through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) and the Intermediary Relending Program, as well as loans made to public and nonprofit organizations for community facilities, and to businesses, cooperatives, and nonprofits expanding in rural areas.
This is identical to the provisions that have been available to SBA lendees as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act since March.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is leading the bipartisan effort for the Senate companion bill. Having representatives and senators from both sides of the aisle supporting the REA is vital. We urge the remaining members of Congress to follow their lead. It’s time to treat rural businesses equally by including the REA in upcoming stimulus legislation.
Rural America can’t wait any longer.
Please join us in letting Congress know it’s time for rural businesses to be treated equally. Click here to email your representative and senators.