Farm bill program supports rural businesses

Anna Johnson
Center for Rural Affairs
Anna Johnson

Rural entrepreneurs are often important members of their communities. The upcoming farm bill offers a significant opportunity to support those entrepreneurs and their rural businesses through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program.

Created in the 2008 farm bill, the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program provides funds to third parties, such as nongovernmental organizations and community development financial institutions, to provide training, technical assistance, and loans to rural entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs served by this program are unable to access capital through traditional means.

One beneficiary of the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program is Chatterbox Brews, a restaurant in Tekamah, Nebraska, a town with a population of 1,730. Owners Cindy Chatte and Britney Hansen saw an opportunity to invest in Cindy’s rural hometown and to give back to the community by offering a new type of establishment, a brewpub serving craft beers and homestyle food.

With support from the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program, loan experts from the Center for Rural Affairs provided the two entrepreneurs with one-on-one counseling and technical assistance to secure financing and realize their dream.

Today, Chatterbox Brews is thriving with daily lunch specials and a seasonal farmers market. And, neighbors are responding. The excitement has spurred even more development in the rural community.

Chatterbox Brew’s success is just one instance of a main street business gaining momentum, thanks to the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. The farm bill program supports small businesses and helps keep rural communities, like Tekamah, vibrant.