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Rural Strong Alaska Program Comes to the Kenai Peninsula

Aug 29, 2019 | Monitor

KENAI PENINSULA—The US Small Business Administration (SBA) Alaska District Office, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, and other local partners have teamed up for Rural Strong Alaska, an initiative to spur economic development across Alaska.

The Rural Strong Initiative will come to the Kenai Peninsula for the first time September 18 at the Kenai Community Library from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is open to the public and will connect attendees with multiple resources for entrepreneurs including financing, exporting, business counseling and mentoring, and small business certifications for government contracting.

“Outside of Anchorage, the entire state of Alaska is rural, making the Rural Strong Initiative especially critical to meeting the unique challenges of rural small businesses across the state,” SBA Alaska District Director Nancy Porzio said, “We want businesses on the Kenai Peninsula Borough to know they are not alone. Together with local partners, we want to help them confidently and successfully start, grow and expand.”

Last year the SBA and USDA signed a national Memorandum of Understanding to provide joint programming and information sessions to empower entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural areas. The SBA and USDA partnership is built on the priorities of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity.

“Strengthening access to capital in rural areas is a shared goal of USDA and SBA,” USDA Rural Development Alaska Business Programs Director Renee Johnson said. “We are excited to partner with other federal agencies and local stakeholders to support rural entrepreneurs and businesses by providing assistance to access the resources they need to be successful.”

More than 46 million Americans live in counties designated as rural by the US Census Bureau, but small businesses in rural areas may lack access to capital and other resources available in more urban areas. The SBA Rural Strong Initiative aims to level the playing field and elevate small businesses by offering loan incentives and training entrepreneurs to access government contracting and export opportunities.

“The SBA Rural Strong Initiative provides entrepreneurs in rural communities with direct access to resources available to help them elevate their business’ and community’s economic strength,” SBA Regional Administrator Jeremy Field said. “Through our partnership with the USDA, we are focused on strengthening rural communities in Alaska by helping small businesses increase their access to capital, expand investment options and improve opportunities to export their products and services.”

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