**Highlights the importance of federal partners EDA, NBRC, CDBG for rural New Hampshire**
(Washington, DC) – Today U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, heard testimony from Rob Riley, President of Concord-based Northern Forest Center, on the unique challenges facing rural small businesses and the critical importance of rural development programs that act as partners to small businesses in New Hampshire, including the Economic Development Administration, Northern Border Regional Commission and Community Development Block Grants.
During the hearing, Shaheen read a letter from Bob Chapman who invested $15 million to redevelop the former Wausau Paper Mill in Groveton to attract businesses and jobs.
Chapman wrote, “These public-private investments in broadband internet, wireless cell service, water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as investments in transportation, education and workforce, are all absolutely necessary to attract companies to move here and to put people to work. Cutting or eliminating investments like the EDA, the NBRC, USDA rural development and transportation projects would be particularly harmful to small businesses in rural areas.”
In response to a question from Shaheen on the importance of these government investments, Riley said, “Those rural development programs… are a critical toolbox to allow entrepreneurs to build out their businesses and access the markets that are within that region. It’s a multi-tiered opportunity here to return on the investment that the public sector has to offer… You go into New Hampshire, people know about these funds and people have a high level of wanting to make sure they are done right. They know these are visible, they know the Senator will come by, and they want them to succeed. They do their absolute best to leverage the other types of resources that are available.”
Shaheen also emphasized that rural development programs are key for the success of New Hampshire small businesses saying, “The SBA and the Small Business Development Centers, Women Business Centers, the effort to help veterans, all of those are also critical as we think about how we can help small businesses. What we want to do is try and make those programs better.”
Shaheen has been an outspoken critic of the President’s budget proposal, which would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Northern Border Regional Commission and economic development funding for rural New Hampshire. In addition, Shaheen recently introduced the Invest in Rural Small Business Act, which will expand the geographic reach of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) HUBZone program.