All of rural Nebraska will feel the pain from these cuts. There will be few grants for rural small business development, entrepreneurship education and other initiatives to grow the rural economy. Funding for Building Entrepreneurial Communities grants was slashed to $150,000 statewide.
Less support will be available for the microenterprises that create most jobs in rural Nebraska. Funding for loans and business training was cut from $1.5 million to $500,000.
Next session legislators should make three modest but crucial investments in rural Nebraska's future:
- Restore the investment in small business development by funding the Microenterprise Partnership Act at its recent level of $1.5 million annually.
- Restore grants to rural communities to the recent level of $500,000 annually and as demand grows, raise it to $1.5 million. Use a portion of the increase to enable small towns to contract with grant writers to help them use funds effectively.
- Boost tax incentives for microbusinesses and beginning farmers and ranchers by removing the $2 million cap on the Microenterprise Investment Tax Credit - a one-time 20% tax credit on investments up to $50,000. No other small businesses can apply once the cap is reached. We don't cap corporate tax breaks, so why cap small businesses that create most new rural jobs?