What’s So Big About Microenterprise?

Microenterprises are businesses with five or fewer employees. At the Center for Rural Affairs, we work every day to ensure that the 2007 farm bill includes the kinds of rural economic development strategies that actually work in rural communities, like investment in microenterprise.

Our support for entrepreneurship and microenterprise does not spring from nostalgic notions of rural life. We back the heaviest hitter in rural economic development. Over the last fifteen years, a vast majority of the all jobs created in rural America – as much as 70 percent – were created by firms with five or fewer employees.

Microenterprise is where the rubber meets the road in rural development. However, 70 percent of the businesses that created all those rural jobs depend on personal savings and credit cards to get started. Financing the best weapon in the rural development arsenal with only personal saving and credit cards is poor public policy.

The time has come for that to change. The best place to start is the 2007 farm bill, the flagship of rural legislation and the federal government’s most significant investment in rural development.

The Center for Rural Affairs proposes that the 2007 farm bill include a one half billion dollar investment in rural development, and perhaps most importantly, use 10 percent of that investment, $50 million nationally, to provide the training, planning, capital and technical assistance that rural entrepreneurs need to thrive. Farm payment limits, good for farmers, ranchers and rural communities in their own right, would easily cover the cost.

For more information visit: www.cfra.org.

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Contact John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org or 402.687.2103 x 1010 or Elisha Smith, elishas@cfra.org or 402.687.2103 x 1007 for more information.

The Center for Rural Affairs is a private nonprofit specializing in strengthening small businesses, rural communities, and family farms and ranches.

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