USDA, FDIC, and SBA partner to support small farmers
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation (FDIC), to host a series of regional economic development workshops on the “Path to Prosperity”. The workshops will take place in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia, to provide small businesses, including farmers and ranchers, with the resources and tools they need to grow.
“These independent businesses, in rural communities, are the cornerstone of American life but many of them lack the same level of access to resources and economic development as their counterparts in larger metro areas,” said Malcom A. Shorter, USDA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration. “USDA is committed to ensuring that small businesses of all types have the knowledge and opportunity to prosper, create jobs, and stimulate their local economies.”
The “Path to Prosperity” workshops will be held in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Georgia with the goal of also reaching individuals and businesses in the surrounding region, as follows:
Jackson, Mississippi (Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma)
Lexington, Kentucky (Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia)
Albany, Georgia (North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee
“These regions were chosen because local businesses accessed USDA’s procurement opportunities at a lower rate than others,” said George A. Sears, director of USDA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
Since the last fiscal year, 4 "Path to Prosperity" events have been held, with nearly 450 participants attending the Caribbean workshops in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix, Virgin Islands. More events are expected to occur throughout the United States as the year continues.
Through the “Path to Prosperity” regional economic development series, federal, state, and local government agencies, private sector, and non-profit partners, will provide small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs with resources and an opportunity to engage with experts and each other to learn best practices. The series is free-of-charge and features experts on how to start a business, how to access capital, and how to do business with the government. They will also include facilitated lender-small business matchmaking sessions. The workshops will feature a pre-event assessment, to gauge the additional needs of participants. Resources and experts are subject to change, based on the conclusions of the pre-event assessment.
The key ideas of the workshops are:
Incentivizing unbanked and under-banked small business owners and individuals to establish a sustainable relationship with an insured financial institution
Expanding technical assistance and financial education for small business owners and individuals to improve their bankability
Increasing the number of SBA-certified lenders to provide access to capital for small, minority, and underserved businesses
Developing contracting relationships with Federal government and private industry partners
“Given USDA’s procurement portfolio of more than $9 billion annually, we can help small businesses access capital through government contracts. Last year, 25.8% of the Department’s contracts went to small, disadvantaged businesses, surpassing our goal of 21.5%, and we plan to exceed that goal again this year,” Shorter said.