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Small rural businesses fight for bailout aid

April Simpson, Stateline.org on

Published in Business News

However, others note that some CDFIs target rural businesses, and that the new money will help expand their reach.

A May 8 report by the Small Business Administration's inspector general found that the SBA failed to follow congressional direction to prioritize small businesses in underserved and rural markets in the original paycheck protection lending program.

And because the SBA did not collect demographic data on those borrowers, the agency doesn't know how much money went to rural, minority and women-owned businesses.

"It was a mess getting that PPP," Hogman said of the Paycheck Protection Program loan. "I probably spent 80-plus hours trying to get that thing set up and in motion."

To be sure, states with fewer COVID-19 cases and more community banks received more loans on a per-business basis than more urban states, according a study released May 6 by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

But small rural businesses applied for -- and received -- CARES Act dollars in smaller numbers than urban ones, according to an online survey the National Main Street Center conducted April 24-May 4. Of 631 respondents in 43 states, the vast majority employ fewer than 20 people.

 

The survey found that in communities of fewer than 50,000 people, 76% of businesses applied, compared with 89% in places with larger populations.

And 45% of small business applications in smaller areas were approved, compared with 59% in larger ones.

"The situation in small towns and in rural America is about as severe as it is in big cities," said Michael Powe, the report's co-author and director of research at the National Main Street Center.

Advocates also are calling on Congress to include the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) in future relief efforts. About 1,200 small rural businesses receive loans through the program.

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