CARSON CITY– The City of Wells and the Audacity Institute awarded 22 small businesses impacted by COVID-19 up to $25,000 in forgivable loans from the Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funding.
The demand was overwhelming, with more than 300 rural entrepreneurs and small business owners from 16 Nevada counties applying for business relief funds from the Rural Business Assistance (RuBA) Program. The Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development awarded the City of Wells and the Audacity Institute $500,000 in funding to launch the program, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
“The overwhelming response from rural business owners who applied to the RuBA program demonstrates the considerable demand for small business funding in combination with technical assistance,” said Patty Herzog, GOED Director of Rural Economic and Community Development.
“Audacity did an exceptional job meeting with community leaders from Main Streets and Chambers to reach underserved businesses.”
The Audacity Institute implemented a statewide awareness campaign that included direct mail to rural businesses paid for by Greater Nevada Credit Union, ads on social media and radio, flyer distribution through in-person outreach and collaboration with the Regional Economic Development Authorities; Nevada Main Street, and Nevada Small Business Development Center.
“Rural business owners face systemic barriers in access to capital and resources to support them in building and growing businesses of the future,” said Danielle Rees, Managing Partner at the Audacity Institute. “Reliable internet access is another challenge, which is why we went old school with our outreach efforts.”
The awareness campaign was highly successful with 309 applications representing the demographics of rural Nevada – 9 percent veteran, 55 percent female, and 29 percent minority (of which 16 percent were Hispanic or Latino; 5 percent Black or African American, 3 percent Indigenous or Native American, 2 percent Asian, 1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and 2 percent Other).
Sixty-one percent of requests for business support came from established businesses, while 31 percent came from new businesses established after February 1, 2020, and 8 percent were ideas.
“Research shows that innovation in rural areas mirrors that of urban areas. Businesses selected for the program represent a wide range of industries including agriculture, beauty, construction, education, food, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail, and technology,” said Kelly Northridge, Managing Partner at Audacity Institute.
Of the 22 businesses selected, 68 percent are established businesses of which 55 percent are female-owned, 45 percent minority-owned, and 5 percent veteran-owned. Fity-one percent of the selected business owners qualify as low-to-moderate income and meet the LMI requirements in their counties. Selected businesses represent Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Nye, Washoe, and White Pine Counties.
“There are hundreds of small businesses who would benefit greatly from this program,” said Jolene Supp, Wells City Manager. “Additional funding to support rural businesses would make a dramatic difference in our rural economies.”