Rural Business Recovery: lawmakers set their sites on rural America’s recovery
The Small Business Administration ramped up services during the pandemic to oversee the Paycheck Protection Program and keep small businesses afloat.
Now, lawmakers are focused on helping rural America hit the road to recovery.
Rural business leaders were on hand to testify at a House Small Business Committee hearing. Nathan Ohle, Rural Community Assistance Partnership CEO, told lawmakers about the importance of outreach and education.
According to Ohle, “Technical assistance can range from a whole variety of needs for rural, small businesses, anything from business planning to marketing to identifying how to use online marketplaces to better sell and produce products. For us through PPP, our two CDFIs provide direct technical assistance, alongside the funding they’re providing, so that they’re ensuring those small businesses have the capacity, and certainly can sustain operations moving forward.”
Brett Challenger, CoBank Senior Vice President of Regional Agribusiness Banking, called attention to the lack of private investment in agriculture.
“The cooperative business model can be an answer to helping businesses get started,” Challenger states. “Lack of interested investors in rural businesses is not a new concept to CoBank. Over the last several years we’ve developed creative solutions to address capital needs with small and emerging agricultural cooperatives.”
He says that CoBank also supports legislation that could help solve that problem.
“We are strong supporters of the Rural Capital Access Act, introduced by Senators Thune, Shehen, and Fisher. This legislation encourages small business and investment companies to invest in rural businesses, while also allowing the RBICs that do not currently receive federal appropriations to access leftover funds from the SPIC program,” Challenger explains.
When questioned about how the President’s tax proposals would affect business, Alan Crawford, a manufacturing company owner, said that he has pressed pause on new equipment purchases.
“Frankly, with the state of the business, our cash flow impact, the concern over increase in tax rates coming up, probably sooner rather than later, has put all of that on pause. Our reaction to that is we need to hold on to cash,” Crawford adds.
He also shared concerns about pandemic unemployment payments, saying that they were making it hard to fill vacant jobs.