Whether you’re interested in starting a small business or running a large one, the truth is that rural entrepreneurs can and do succeed. By finding ways to attract tourism and other types of visitors, as well as attracting new businesses, rural entrepreneurs can help maintain the health of their communities and local economies.
Stabilize local economies
Historically, the power differential between rural and urban America has been created by racism and poverty. Urban areas are drained of resources, energy, and attention, while rural places have tremendous social, cultural, and individual capital. These assets have been neglected, and are not always in place to help the community succeed. Despite the diversity of rural communities, they face chronic disinvestment, lack of business lending capital, and weak infrastructure.
The Community Reinvestment Act, which was created in response to redlining, holds financial institutions accountable for serving underserved communities. Rural communities can be skeptical of outside initiatives, especially those that are headquartered in a larger community. Many cities have planning departments and economists. However, many small towns do not have expert staff or the resources to support these experts.
Intermediaries are place-based organizations that provide services to local clients and inform state and federal agencies. These organizations provide boots on the ground to local communities, improving prosperity.
Increasingly, rural entrepreneurs are demonstrating how to take advantage of a relatively low cost business model to attract tourists. Among the challenges these businesses face are access to capital, workforce and geographic isolation. Fortunately, some states have passed laws to help facilitate such endeavors. This is especially true in the tourism and hospitality sector. Aside from the obvious economic benefits, many small businesses in rural areas are also benefiting from a burgeoning agritourism industry.
It’s no secret that agritourism has garnered significant attention from researchers and scholars across the political spectrum, including the White House. This has led to a spate of research highlighting the state of the art in agritourism and tourism related products and services. These include farm to fork experiences, culinary tours, and ecotourism initiatives. These innovations are proving to be more cost effective and appealing to a broad spectrum of consumers. In fact, agritourism has become so important that the state of Iowa is launching a new department dedicated to it. Similarly, South Dakota recently launched an initiative to improve the quality of its ag tourism product.
Find a local economic development organization
Whether you are looking for a business location, funding or technical assistance, there are many organizations that can help you succeed. There are also several federal programs that can help you establish a business in rural America.
The Small Business Administration offers counseling and financial assistance to rural entrepreneurs. You can also apply for a grant through the Rural Business Development program. These programs can help you establish your business and grow it.
Another program that provides support to rural entrepreneurs is the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program. This program provides entrepreneurs with training and resources to improve health care services and education. It also offers businesses the opportunity to provide high-quality internet services in rural areas.
Local Economic Development, or LED, is a strategic planning process that addresses community economic problems. It involves partnerships between local government and non-profit organizations. It is designed to stimulate investments in the community and reduce obstacles to business expansion.