The organization that acts as mentors to America’s small businesses and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has launched a centralized resource hub especially for entrepreneurs in rural areas.
SCORE Small Business Mentors Open Hub to Help Rural Entrepreneurs
SCORE for Rural Entrepreneurs will provide rural small business owners with information, tools, and personalized support to help them start and grow their businesses. The new specialized resource hub is in part a response to a 33% decline in rural businesses over the last decade.
Declining Populations and Funding Challenges
Recent meta-analysis from SCORE reveals that declining populations, funding challenges and limited broadband access are the main reasons behind the decline in rural businesses. The data shows that 39% of the rural population – around 23 million people – lack access to fast broadband internet services, compared to only 4% of urban residents lacking similar access.
The SCORE for Rural Entrepreneurs program will connect with small business owners in rural areas to support them in overcoming the various obstacles peculiar to starting and running a business away from the urban sprawl. This includes providing free, remote, expert business mentoring focused on rural entrepreneur needs, as well as providing access to webinars and original online educational content specific to the rural community.
The program will also offer inspiring stories of rural entrepreneurs who have achieved their business goals, all while celebrating the successes and contributions of the rural business community to the economy.
A ‘Seat at the Table’ For Rural Entrepreneurs
The Vice President of Marketing for SCORE, Candice Stennett, said: “We developed this resource because rural small business owners, like other underserved communities, deserve a seat at the table. This hub provides specialized resources to help rural entrepreneurs thrive. In particular, the remote mentoring program will include mentors with a strong understanding of the needs of rural business owners in order to provide the best support possible. Reaching rural entrepreneurs where these resources are not readily available is essential to their success, and we’re committed to bridging that gap.”
Rural entrepreneur Pete Bednarek is the owner of Wolf Hollow Brewing Company in Schenectady, New York, has been working with SCORE every month for nearly ten years, and he explained how the advice and counsel his business received from SCORE has been a big factor in helping them overcome many of the challenges faced in growing the microbrewery in a rural area. Peter said: “My business partner and I started as two friends brewing 200 barrels of beer per year as a hobby-business. Now, we have 13 employees producing more than 1,200 barrels per year on a 17-acre property, and our product is distributed across an 11-county region. SCORE’s new hub will support many other rural businesses that face similar challenges.”
Boosting Small Business in America
SCORE has worked with around 11 million entrepreneurs to help them start or grow a business since 1964. The organization has around 10,000 volunteers that provide free mentoring, workshops and educational services to 1,500+ communities nationwide. They estimate that they helped create over 25,000 new businesses and more than 71,000 non-owner jobs in 2021 alone.
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Another thing that rural entrepreneurs need is access to faster and more reliable internet. That is really holding back rural areas.