By Kim Preston, lending services director, Center for Rural Affairs
The holiday season is upon us, and for many people that means making purchases for gift exchanges and planning the menu for family and work gatherings.
But, for our nation’s small business owners, preparing for the biggest and busiest time of the year can take months of hard work, and involves more than just inventory on the shelves.
While consumers make their lists and check them twice, entrepreneurs have been working behind the scenes to prepare. They’ve spent nights and weekends learning how to market their business and getting familiar with social media. When things slow down they turn their attention to learning bookkeeping and tax requirements.
Our entrepreneurs are not alone. Many take advantage of training programs offered by organizations such as the Center for Rural Affairs. These programs are supported by state and federal efforts designed to ensure that our smallest businesses are there for you.
The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) helps business owners access much-needed loan capital and technical assistance. Through RMAP, grants are made available to organizations to provide training and to make small loans to new and existing rural small businesses. Grants have facilitated more than 2,100 small businesses to expand operations, create jobs, and tap new markets.
The holiday season is the time when all of this work pays off. You can reward small businesses by shopping locally as you purchase gifts and plan your gatherings. Keeping your dollars in the local community is the gift that can keep giving.