Letter: Give Mass. farmers more access to growth capital
Like most of rural America, rural communities in Massachusetts are in desperate need of better infrastructure, transportation, health care and education services — all of which greatly affect Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation members, their families and communities.
Lack of access to affordable growth capital is another significant impediment to growth and vitality for our rural communities. Specifically, many small businesses in rural areas simply don't have access to the money they need to grow their businesses and create jobs. The impact on rural communities is significant and is preventing them from reaching their full potential.
Part of the problem is the continued reduction in bank branches in rural regions (highlighted in a Wall Street Journal article earlier this year) and the near disappearance of community banks over the past several years. In rural communities, decisions on loan applications are now typically made outside the community in urban areas, by people who don't know or understand rural communities and business.
The Rural Jobs Act by Representative Steve Kulik would provide significant growth capital to small businesses in rural areas of the commonwealth. Creating opportunities to expand small businesses while keeping them local — a longstanding policy of MFBF — means economic stability, business growth, and stronger, more resilient communities.
We urge our leaders on Beacon Hill to coordinate with rural legislators, educators, community leaders, small businesses, entrepreneurs and investors to pursue this comprehensive policy that would enhance the economy of the Commonwealth.
Half of all Massachusetts towns are rural, comprising 60 percent of the land area of the commonwealth. By working together, we can boost growth and opportunity in small towns and farming communities, empower all areas of the commonwealth to more fully contribute to our economy, and maintain viable, self-sustaining communities throughout Massachusetts.
The author is president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation.
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