Rural businesses say access to capital is key to growth

Lansing, MI – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is holding a series of community forums around the country to gather ideas on rural development. Thursday night, mid-Michigan residents had their say about the issue.


About 60 people attended the forum at Lansing Community College's West Campus. The comments centered on familiar refrains, like expanding alternative energy jobs, stopping the talent pool drain. But one overriding theme seemed to emerge: giving small businesses freer access to capital. Rex LaMore directs MSU's Center for Community and Economic Development. He says Michigan should create more locally administered lending programs.

"Everything from small, peer to peer lending models, individual development accounts, to larger debt financing that might secure significant industrial rural development strategies," LaMore said.

Though the forum focused mainly on agriculture, several participants stressed that Michigan must not forsake investing in manufacturing.