Rural Business Assistance program highlights need in rural counties

CARSON CITY —  The City of Wells and the Audacity Institute awarded 22 small businesses impacted by COVID-19 up to $25,000 in forgivable loans from the Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding.

The demand was overwhelming, with more than 300 rural entrepreneurs and small business owners from 16 Nevada counties applying for business relief funds from the Rural Business Assistance (RuBA) Program. The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development awarded the City of Wells and the Audacity Institute $500,000 in funding to launch the program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“The overwhelming response from rural business owners who applied to the RuBA program demonstrates the considerable demand for small business funding in combination with technical assistance,” said Patty Herzog, GOED Director of Rural Economic and Community Development.

61 percent of requests for business support came from established businesses, while 31 percent came from new businesses established after February 1, 2020, and 8 percent were ideas.

“Research shows that innovation in rural areas mirrors that of urban areas.  Businesses selected for the program represent a wide range of industries including agriculture, beauty, construction, education, food, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and technology,” said Kelly Northridge, Managing Partner at Audacity Institute. 

Of the 22 businesses selected, 68 percent are established businesses of which 55 percent are female-owned, 45 percent minority-owned, and 5 percent veteran-owned.  51 percent of the selected business owners qualify as low-to-moderate income and meet the LMI requirements in their counties. Selected businesses represent Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Nye, Washoe, and White Pine Counties. 

“There are hundreds of small businesses who would benefit greatly from this program,” said Jolene Supp, Wells City Manager. “Additional funding to support rural businesses would make a dramatic difference in our rural economies.”

RuBA program participants will receive up to $25,000 in forgivable loans. Loans will be forgiven after completion of a 9-month online business training and mentoring program that began in October.