In rural America, the local community drives the rural economy. Main Street businesses are critical to economic growth. Money spent and invested locally rolls through a community and generates even more economic benefits.
That’s why rural small businesses are critical to strong rural communities. And it’s why USDA is pleased to join with the Small Business Administration to recognize and honor America’s small businesses this week, during National Small Business Week.
At USDA, we have the expertise and financing to help small businesses. Our assistance has a significant impact on rural communities. For example, in 2012, we helped businesses create or save an estimated 53,000 rural jobs, and helped nearly 10,000 rural business owners or farmers improve their enterprises.
USDA has also launched two key initiatives to improve the economic conditions of rural Americans in some of the most economically-challenged regions of the nation:
- We’re working closely with the Appalachian Regional Commission on a new public/private partnership to create a stronger and more diversified Appalachian economy.
- And in March, USDA expanded its StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to 16 states. This undertaking is designed to increase partnerships in rural communities and further leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas.
Today, President Obama marked the beginning of Small Business Week by issuing a Presidential Proclamation for the 50th year running.
Meanwhile, Secretary Vilsack announced 54 new awards under our Rural Business Enterprise Grant program to help rural small businesses in 21 states expand and grow. These grants will be used for feasibility studies, improved web marketing, tourism outreach and new facilities. They’re just one more step that USDA is taking to give rural businesses tools to grow and create jobs.
Over the course of this week, we expect to make a variety of additional program announcements in support of Small Business Week. We’ll also continue to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive, multiyear Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to make possible even more assistance for rural small businesses in the years to come.
As we kick off Small Business Week, join us at USDA in supporting the local small businesses that will build new opportunity across America’s small towns and rural communities.