This week is National Small Business Week. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), along with agencies across the Obama Administration, are hosting events in five cities. These events provide expert advice, mentoring and explore topics ranging from access to capital to exporting. Small businesses across the country can tune into these events via livestream at sba.gov.
America’s small businesses create two out of three net new private sector jobs in our economy. And today more than half of all working Americans either own or work for a small business. Our goal is to ensure that the positive economic benefits of entrepreneurship can reach every corner of the country.
That’s why today the White House Rural Council is announcing new commitments to increase access to capital and to provide additional training and counseling services to rural small businesses and entrepreneurs.
For Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have committed to support a combined $175 million in microloans to small businesses in rural areas, in addition to new business training and counseling opportunities. To date, in FY13, we have already supported nearly $85 million to rural small businesses. Since 2009, USDA and SBA have provided over 19,000 loans and grants, helping more than 60,000 rural small businesses through programs like USDA-Rural Development's Intermediary Relending Program and SBA's Microloan Program.
Twenty-five percent of SBA's microloans go to rural entrepreneurs. And the SBA provides nearly 30 percent of its in-person training and counseling sessions in USDA-designated rural communities. Our goal, at SBA, USDA and across the Obama Administration, is to continue to fill the gaps for loans in underserved rural communities and to ensure that rural entrepreneurs have the resources and training they need to turn a great business idea into a viable and growing business.
As President Obama wrote in his proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, “America's small businesses reflect the best of who we are as a Nation -- daring and innovative, courageous and hopeful, always working hard and looking ahead for that next great idea. They are our economy's engine and our biggest source of new jobs.”
By taking an inclusive view of entrepreneurship, one that expands access and opportunity to more rural communities, we can spur new business formation, innovation, job creation and build strong regional economies across Rural America.
Karen Mills is the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Tom Vilsack is the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.