PORTLAND – U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, a member of President Obama’s Cabinet, gave keynote remarks today at the fifth and final regional White House Rural Council’s “Made In Rural America Regional Forum” at the Abernethy Center in Oregon City. She promoted investment and export opportunities for rural small businesses and entrepreneurs. The forum is a cornerstone of the Administration’s “Made in Rural America” Export and Investment Initiative as well as part of President Obama’s broad commitment to support economic growth and job creation in rural communities.
“Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, ‘Made in Rural America’ is an initiative that goes all the way to the top of the federal government,” said SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet. “Here in Oregon, more than 5,000 companies are exporting on an annual basis, and 90 percent of those firms are small and medium-size businesses. We’ve seen brisk exporting activity of electronics, agricultural products, and machinery to Canada, China, Malaysia, Japan and Korea. This conference was all about providing tools to help current exporters get more international contracts and aspiring exporters get their first. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of our borders, and President Obama is determined to open new channels to help more American small businesses sell to them.”
The SBA is committed to unlocking the potential of rural American small businesses. SBA Rural Business Loans have provided capital access to the middle class and rural America. Overall, SBA has supported 3,700 loans totaling $1.1 billion in Portland as well as approving $242 million in small business loans for the first 10 months of fiscal year 2014 in Portland.
Rural small business growth is important as half of the people who work in America either own or work for a small business, and two out of three new private sector jobs are created by small businesses, many located in rural areas. Therefore, this initiative will help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers in America and markets abroad.