Sens. Ricketts, Smith introduce Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act


Teresa Hoffman, senior communications associate,, 402.687.2100, ext. 1012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of Congress continue to show bipartisan support for rural small businesses as they prepare to debate the nation’s next farm bill. 

Last week, U.S. Sens. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act of 2023. The legislation extends and enhances the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). 

Established in the 2008 farm bill, RMAP assists rural entrepreneurs who are unable to access credit from traditional lenders by providing loans and technical assistance through community lenders, such as the Center. The program has provided critical support to small businesses in nearly every state.

The Center for Rural Affairs commends Sens. Ricketts and Smith for their work to expand opportunities for rural small businesses across the country. 

“Rural entrepreneurship continues to evolve, and it is important that programs like RMAP do the same,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center. “Sens. Ricketts and Smith deserve credit for recognizing this and for doing what they can to help small businesses succeed.”

With language developed alongside stakeholders across the country, the legislation includes key program changes that would provide direct benefits to entrepreneurs. The updates increase the maximum loan amount from $50,000 to $75,000, allow small businesses to use loan funds for construction and renovation projects, and eliminate requirements for Microenterprise Development Organizations to use multiple sources of funding to provide loans to underserved rural business owners. 

“Raising the loan cap is a direct response to the increased cost of doing business since 2008,” Hladik said. “In addition, the legislation will allow entrepreneurs to renovate existing brick-and-mortar establishments and revitalize rural towns.”  

In introducing the legislation, Ricketts noted the important role small businesses play in the U.S. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our national economy,” he said. “This legislation would give individuals the opportunity to turn ideas into reality. With stubbornly high inflation, the barriers to entry to start a business are higher than ever before. I’m proud this bill will reward innovation and entrepreneurship in rural parts of the country like Nebraska.”

The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act has also been introduced in the U.S. House— by Reps. Zach Nunn (IA-3) and Angie Craig (MN-2). 

“We commend Sens. Ricketts and Smith and Reps. Nunn and Craig for their leadership on behalf of rural small businesses, and encourage congressional leaders to include the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Act in the final farm bill package,” Hladik said.