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Keeping it Close to Home: How USDA and Small Business Saturday Help Rural Businesses Thrive

Business Program Specialist Deborah Rausch, Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan, Toia Rivera-Strohm and Brad Strohm show off local textiles from the VonStrohm Woolen Mill & Fiber Arts Studio in Pickaway County. The small business was awarded VAPGs in 2010 and 2012. (USDA photo)

Business Program Specialist Deborah Rausch, Ohio Rural Development State Director Tony Logan, Toia Rivera-Strohm and Brad Strohm show off local textiles from the VonStrohm Woolen Mill & Fiber Arts Studio in Pickaway County. The small business was awarded VAPGs in 2010 and 2012. (USDA photo)

By now, we’re all familiar with the uniquely American shopping frenzy known as “Black Friday.” Almost before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even in the fridge, Big Box stores throw open their doors, offering sales geared toward holiday shoppers wrangling for the best deals. Black Friday has become as much of a November tradition as pumpkin pie, but for the past few years, small businesses around the country have been offering an enticing alternative to the long lines and early wake-up calls that come with the craze. USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBCS) is pleased to join the White House, the Small Business Administration and 1,400 American communities in celebrating Small Business Saturday on November 30.

Small Business Saturday is all about buying local and shopping small. Shopping small for both holiday gifts and everyday items not only can save you money, it also offers you access to one-of-a-kind, locally-made products as an alternative to “cookie-cutter” gifts. Small Business Saturday is designed to support the businesses that drive commerce in small communities; businesses that account for 44 percent of the private sector payroll and create two out of every three new jobs in America.

It’s USDA’s mission to help businesses in rural parts of the country expand, purchase new equipment, receive training and technical assistance, and become energy efficient in their operations. RBCS accomplishes this through direct loans, loan guarantees and grants, and we celebrate their successes every day. In honor of Small Business Saturday, we encourage you to support the small businesses that make America great.

By “shopping small,” you’ll be supporting businesses like the Von Strohm Woolen Mill & Fiber Arts Studio of South Bloomfield, Ohio. Von Strohm used its VAPG to develop a successful marketing plan that connected the business to other local farmers with fiber to sell. The grant also freed up other resources, allowing Von Strohm to put two additional workers on the payroll.

You’ll be supporting small businesses like the Lower Brule Farm Corporation in central South Dakota, which used its VAPG to integrate the processing, packaging and marketing of the Lakota Foods line of popcorn.

And, you’ll be supporting Kelley’s Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wis., featured as one of America’s Best Ice Creams on Good Morning America. With its VAPG, Kelley’s conducted a feasibility study on the successful production and marketing of their homemade ice cream.

Who knew “shopping small” could have such a BIG impact?

Twins Katrina and Will Edwards, both age 5, and their father Tim dig into ice cream at Kelley's Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The creamery started operations with assistance from two USDA Value Added Producer grants. (USDA photo)

Twins Katrina and Will Edwards, both age 5, and their father Tim dig into ice cream at Kelley's Country Creamery in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The creamery started operations with assistance from two USDA Value Added Producer grants. (USDA photo)

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