By Mark Dobosz
It is said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. However, for a rural small business owner, finding the shortest distance to resources to help start or grow a business can often be a very twisting and winding road.
80% of America’s economic engine is run by small business and rural small business is an important aspect of that to our nation’s economy. So whether it be broadband access, business mentoring, designated rural small business loan programs, or any of the other hundreds of resources that are available –access to these are possible with a computer and “the push of a button”.
If you aren’t sure where to start as an existing rural small business owner or, as someone who thinks they would like to start a business in their rural community, browse some of the following sites that might assist you in making your next business decision:
Starting or growing your rural small business
- The Rural Information Center – (operated by the USDA) The RIC staff provide customized information products to specific inquiries including assistance in economic revitalization issues; local government planning projects; funding sources; technical assistance programs; research studies; and other related issues.
- SBA Rural Small Business Loans – Designed to accommodate the unique loan processing needs of small community/rural-based lenders by simplifying and streamlining loan application process and procedures, particularly for smaller SBA loans.
- Rural Business Investment Programs - The Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP) promotes economic development in mostly rural areas by helping to meet the equity capital investment needs of smaller enterprises located in such areas.
- SCORE – Mentors to America’s Small Business – Rural Entrepreneur Resources SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. We have been doing this for nearly fifty years. Available resources will assist rural based entrepreneurs in learning how to compete on the world's stage.
- Center for Rural Affairs – An organization that establishes strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities.
- Low Franchise Cost Programs – Several organizations and companies offer rural franchise incentive programs. These programs such as The UPS Store Main Street program include reduced franchise fees and revised requirements.
Rural small business social media sites
Investing in rural small business success today, by making these and other resources more widely available, will translate into growing prosperity nationally for many years to come.
Mark Dobosz serves as President of The SCORE Foundation and is Vice President, Development for SCORE – Mentors to America’s Small Business. SCORE, a national nonprofit organization with a public service mission of over 12,500 volunteers providing small business counseling and training through a network of 350 chapters and 800 branches. Mark has over 30 years of experience in a variety of leadership roles and areas for not for profit organizations including development, marketing, public relations, community and government relations operations and teaching . Mark has served in organizations that address community needs in the areas of education, health care, disabilities, children’s services and community development.