USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday kicked off National Small Business Week by highlighting USDA's actions to help rural small businesses. He also announced the selection of 54 award recipients under the Rural Business Enterprise Grants program in 21 states.
"Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in small towns and rural communities, just as they are in our biggest cities," Vilsack said. "USDA supports small businesses by providing job training, business development opportunities, strategic community planning and other resources. We're focused on making sure that Main Street businesses have the tools they need to grow."
The Rural Business Enterprise Grant program also supports businesses' efforts to manufacture new products, expand local food systems and create jobs.
Since 2009, USDA has provided more than 15,000 loans and grants through its business programs, helping more than 60,000 rural small businesses through its business and cooperative development programs. This assistance has also been directed toward historically underserved communities.
Additionally, USDA is working in persistent poverty areas in 16 states to leverage local partnerships and grow the economy through its StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity.
Rural small businesses are encouraged to contact their nearest USDA Rural Development office for information about available assistance.