• 34°

Guest Opinion: Congress again overlooks rural businesses during critical time

By Johnathan Hladik

As they continue to face challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic, rural small businesses and communities with loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program find themselves on the outside once again.

Provisions of the Rural Equal Aid (REA) Act, a measure with bipartisan support in the House and Senate, were left out of the latest round of stimulus funding approved recently by Congress.

Our elected officials have again let these rural entrepreneurs down and have forgotten the pandemic has been just as severe, if not more so, in many rural communities.

Under the REA Act, businesses with loans through the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program would have their principal, interest and associated fees covered for a six-month period. It also included loans through the Intermediary Relending Program and those made to public and nonprofit organizations for community facilities, and to businesses, cooperatives and nonprofits expanding in rural areas.

Those provisions were given to businesses with loans through the Small Business Administration as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved in March and in this latest round of funding, relief was extended a second time.

Similar support would have provided parity for rural communities. These are the loans that keep Main Street vibrant, making it possible for small community financial institutions to grow local economies with local dollars.

As the pandemic continues to impact our economy, we urge Congress to treat rural entities equally by including them in upcoming stimulus legislation.

Johnathan Hladik is a policy director for the Center for Rural Affairs.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

News

COVID-19 update on cases, vaccinations

Crime

Juvenile robbery suspects captured after crashing car into train

Lifestyles

Mega Millions ticket sold in Brunswick County wins $2 million prize

News

Judge orders plan for releasing more red wolves into wild

News

Dare school board to stream meetings; revised polices adopted

News

Fleming named Tyrrell County Employee of the Year

Crime

North Carolina man charged in shooting of off-duty deputy

News

Coronavirus outbreaks reported at Dare County congregate living facilities

Crime

Duck Police Department’s monthly report lists variety of incidents

Crime

Ex-Rep. Hayes pardoned by Trump for role in bribery scandal

News

$642,767 Cash 5 jackpot win leaves Craven County retiree feeling ‘blessed’

News

Dare public schools stay with remote learning

News

Dare Planning Board looks at three developments and camping cabins

Crime

Marshals offer $5K reward for arrests in fatal NC shooting

News

Amtrak cancels trains in Virginia, limits route of The Carolinian ahead of inauguration

News

Teen bicyclist dies after collision with car in North Carolina

Crime

Three dead and one hospitalized in apparent domestic case in North Carolina

Crime

Four NC men charged with murder after body found in trunk of car

News

Coast Guard, good Samaritan rescue man after vessel sinks

News

North Carolina weekly gas price update

Crime

Family of slain North Carolina man seeks answers decades after his death

News

Martin Luther King Jr. day featured in National Parks

News

Dorothy Schmidt Cole, oldest living Marine, dies at 107

News

COVID-19 outbreak reported at Dare Detention Center