Small business is the backbone of our national economy

Small Business Week highlights those businesses that are the backbone of our economy, those “mom and pop” and larger businesses that are still below the Wall Street radar in our country. These businesses create most of the employment in the nation, thank you very much.

To that end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that a large number of these small businesses are located in what is considered rural communities. USDA Rural Development works closely with small businesses that, working with agriculture, make our small communities dotting the map, not only viable, but healthy and growing.

John Padalino, Acting Administrator of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service, said last week, “We know that to build a strong foundation for our country, we must continue to invest in rural communities and small businesses that create new economic opportunities for those who call rural America home. We’ve seen continued growth in rural business development and the Obama Administration will continue working to strengthen local economies throughout the nation.”

To that end, the Rural Business-Cooperative Service provided 12,214 guaranteed loans, direct loans and grants, from 2009 through 2011 nationally, assisting more than 50,000 businesses and helping to create or save, Padalino stated, more than 266,000 jobs.

The idea is for government to use its resources to jump start and sustain private sector businesses so they can continue to lead employment in this country. Rural, small business jobs will never be outsourced overseas.

Padalino cited some examples of what the program has achieved:

• Morris Manufacturing and Sales Corporation, a family-owned automotive parts manufacturer in Brazil, Ind., had to lay off 100 of its 135 employees when two major auto makers closed down and reorganized. With assistance from USDA Rural Development, Morris secured four loan guarantees totaling $10.2 million. It was able to use the money to restructure debt and purchase new equipment. As a direct result, Morris was able to rehire laid off workers, build a new production facility, expand its product line, and, and it’s a big and, hire more than 60 “new” employees; and

• The Montana Wagyu Cattle Company, a family-owned and operated business, used its $49,900 Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) to grow and expand its business by selling products over the Internet. The company raises cattle and provides USDA Grade-A beef and specialty beef products to restaurants, stores and consumers throughout its region. With the grant the company now sells and ships custom-ordered cuts of beef (steaks, roasts and specialty cuts) to consumers and businesses all over the country.

So, thank the small business owners and employers in your community, and tip your cap to the USDA for helping them out.

I’ll see ya.

An Iowa native, Peter Graham has been a rural newspaper editor for 39 years. He currently edits a twice-weekly paper in Western Iowa. You can contact him at (712) 642-2791 or