The Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Says Resources are Available for Rural Businesses – Part 1


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  It continues to work to provide counseling, capital and help for small business owners and entrepreneurs.  With resources available around the country, assistance is available for businesses in rural communities as well.

March 15 was National Small Business Development Center Day.  That day I spoke with Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger of Virginia’s 7th District.

Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman:

“The SBA is the federal agency that focuses on helping small businesses start and grow and we rely on and fund a network of incredible advisors like through the SBDCs, the Small Business Development Centers, and we are celebrating SBDC Day today, but as well through our Veteran’s Outreach Centers, our SCORE mentors, and our Women’s Business Centers, as well as other grantees and accelerators that exist around the country,” says Guzman.  “We also work with a network of lenders, often times those are community mission oriented lenders, as well as local community banks.  We work through these lenders to distribute SBA funding opportunities for small businesses to grow.  So, whether it’s the capital or the network to help businesses figure out how to grow and, oftentimes you know, during the pandemic figure out how to pivot with that.  The SBA is here to help small businesses across the board, and even more so as we invest in broadband focus on digital skillsets, to succeed.  We are hoping to continue to expand our reach, but many times our District Offices that are located around the country as well as our Centers, either, have a focus, and trying be as inclusive as possible across the country including our rural communities.  We’ve actually focused and leaned in to try to ensure our Navigators that were funded through the American Rescue Plan expand our reach into rural communities.”

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger from Virginia’s 7th District.

“I represent a great variety of rural and agricultural communities,” says Spanberger.  “So many of our rural businesses some of the challenges, and the Administrator mentioned it, from broadband connectivity. So, as so many businesses tried to pivot to having online sales, the impact that some of our communities that I represent had because of broadband connectivity challenges were unique to them.  And they demonstrated incredible versatility, but also when much of the business might be based in tourism or weekend visits, when they faced major hurdles when so much of Virginia for public health reasons when peoples purchasing or tourism tendencies changed, it really required that many of these small businesses, particularly in rural communities, reinvented themselves or expanded how they were attracting local business, but also maintaining the ability to bring in business through tourism and through attracting new businesses.  So, I think what I have heard so consistently from the small business owners I represent in rural communities is the real value that SBA brings and, in particular, the SBDC direct link that they have in their own community and their engagement with those local district advisors.”

To learn more about resources from the Small Business Administration, stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio for part two of this story.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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