The Obameter

Establish a small business initiative for rural America

"Will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by establishing a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America. The program will provide training and technical assistance for rural small business, and provide a 20 percent tax credit on up to $50,000 of investment in small owner-operated businesses. This initiative will put the full support of the nation's economic policies behind rural entrepreneurship."


Obama uses stimulus package to boost small business

Revitalizing rural America was a big part of Obama's campaign platform. Many of his promises, including one to spur job growth in small communities, are part of a larger effort to boost poor towns and create jobs.
This promise sounds a lot like one Obama made to create a rural revitalization program. While investigating that pledge, we found that the Department of Agriculture has launched a Rural Tour to "engage in a more robust dialogue with folks living in rural America."

Obama has backed up that effort with cold cash, as well. A little more than half of the Agriculture Department's share of the stimulus funding -- about $28 billion -- is dedicated to rural development projects. For instance, in October, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $30 million in stimulus funding for 36 community facilities projects, many of which are health care facilities. That was in addition to $335 million that the Agriculture Department had already announced for such projects.
Building and staffing these projects is meant to create jobs.
This promise also deals specifically with creating a 20 percent tax credit for up to $50,000 of investment in small businesses, and we were hard-pressed to find the exact initiative Obama talked about on the campaign trail.
Nevertheless, Obama used the stimulus package to boost small businesses. Overall, it included $375 million for small businesses, and eliminated fees on loans given by the Small Business Administration. Specifically, the bill set aside $50 million in additional funding to support small business microloans and $24 million for technical assistance training. None of this money is specifically earmarked for small, rural businesses.
The legislation had all kinds of other goodies for small businesses, including allowing small businesses to immediately write off up to $250,000 of some investments in 2009, essentially providing an immediate tax break. It also extended bonus depreciation, allowing businesses to take a larger tax deduction within the first year of a property"s purchase.

Finally, the stimulus bill included a measure that excluded from taxation 75 percent of the capital gains for investors in small businesses who hold their investments for five years.
In December, Obama asked Congress to renew some of these deals and add new ones. But so far there's been no substantial action on his request.
So, it seems Obama has been pecking away at the issue of boosting small, rural businesses, but not through the microlending program he described on the campaign trail. We plan to keep our eye on this one, but for now we'll call it a Compromise.


The Small Business Administration, Microloan Overview, accessed Jan. 12, 2010

The New York Times, Little New for Small Business in Obama Job Speech, by Robb Mandelbaum, Dec. 8, 2009

The White House, President Obama and Secretary Geithner Announce Plans to Unlock Credit for Small Businesses, March 19, 2009