Hard Times Come to Much of Rural America
Businesses in rural towns are starving for equal access to capital that has benefited urban areas for decades. Scarcity of capital for small businesses has accelerated the crisis described in “Rural America Is the New ‘Inner City’” (page one, May 27) by stunting the growth of young businesses. Traditionally, a rural business owner or enterprising farmer who needed assistance to purchase farm or manufacturing equipment or even warehouse space would go to the community bank or farm credit office and acquire a loan. Today there are far fewer community banks, and those remaining lenders have higher credit and liquidity standards. Federal lending standards have made loans cost-prohibitive for many entrepreneurs. Furthermore, big banks have decreased their loan volumes to small businesses, creating a widening lending gap.
Rural Jobs Coalition
Rural America has endured poor socioeconomic conditions for over a century. Fifty years ago the President’s National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty published “The People Left Behind.” In the report, it noted some 14 million rural residents were classified as being in poverty—slightly over 25% of all rural residents. In contrast, central cities were estimated to have 10 million people in poverty—about 17% of central-city residents. The idea that local government, churches and community groups provided a viable social safety net is great theory not supported with facts. At best, these pick up a percentage of people in need. Life can be great growing up on a farm or living in a rural community away from horns and traffic and people. But there are costs. Services are always less available, the most important being health care.
Dale L. Stansbury
Los Gatos, Calif.