North Dakota’s vast amount of rural land is perhaps one of the state’s defining features. When driving across the state, the most common views are miles of farmland and oilfields. But despite the sparse looking land scattered throughout the state, there are many small and vibrant rural communities. The citizens in these communities depend on local business owners and entrepreneurs for necessary goods and services; small business success is integral to the success of rural communities.
A large portion of North Dakota’s residents live in rural parts of the state. According to the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), of the state’s estimated 779,094 (2020 numbers) citizens, 383,875 of them, or 49% of the population, live in rural North Dakota. This classifies North Dakota as one of the most rural states in the U.S. and means that we must work hard to support our rural small businesses and their entrepreneurial ecosystems. And rural communities and businesses are facing some daunting challenges.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Rural communities face challenges related to demographic changes, workforce development, capital access, infrastructure, health, land use, and environment and community preservation. Compared to their urban counterparts, rural areas have less internet access, fewer educational institutions, see more hospitals close, and experience less economic growth.” These difficulties facing rural communities are receiving national attention now more than ever; America’s SBDC identified the rural business as a national priority for 2022, and the Biden Administration launched the Rural Partners Network (RPN) with federal staffing and dollars. Programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Business Investment Program (RBIP) are receiving much support and attention.
Supporting rural businesses is integral to ensuring our small communities thrive economically and socially. The town gas station, the local plumber, and the small community theater are all small but mighty and vital components of our rural North Dakota communities. Our geographically dispersed staff are experts in supporting and assisting these businesses and their specialized needs. The ND SBDC’s goal to be physically accessible to all North Dakotans led to our launch of virtual access centers in the most rural communities. It is part of why maintaining advising offices throughout the state is one of our main priorities.
The ND SBDC is very familiar with working with rural business owners, and we are proud to tout that our advisors provide expertise in this area at the national level to the ASBDC. Connecting business owners to capital, providing locally accessible training and education opportunities, and simply giving support and encouragement are all ways we support and promote rural businesses at the ND SBDC.
We are proud to serve B.E. rural – we genuinely believe that even the smallest communities can be mighty in business and impact.
Our advisors are fortunate to work with talented and dedicated rural business owners every day, and we are excited to highlight and share a few of them with you as part of this month’s update.
“I had a little dream but didn’t know where to start, and the ND Small Business Development Center had a class in my town. I attended, was very impressed, and wanted to learn more. I set up a one-on-one meeting with Laura Weber, and she helped me through many questions and gave me some wonderful suggestions. Without her and SBDC’s help, my dream would never have become a reality.”
“Looking back on working with the ND SBDC, I am just so thankful they gave us a chance to present our idea. And then allowing us to make our idea real and going above and beyond to help us, it was such a pleasure to work with them.”
“Paul talked to us about the basics of starting the business, revenue, budget, and a business plan. He was constantly feeding us knowledge and guiding us. Not only did he give us the information, but he gave it to us in a way that we understood. He was instrumental. I don’t think we would have a business without the ND SBDC, and I am sincere in saying that.”
“The SBDC helped secure the funds needed to expand our child care center and make improvements that will allow us to provide the highest quality care. This is a huge positive impact for our community.”
If you or someone you know would like to schedule a no-cost advising session with one of our professional business advisors, register here.
Tiffany Ford, State Director
And all the Staff of the ND Small Business Development Network