2019-01-12 02:30:34

Have you ever thought about starting a small business in a rural setting but lacked the resources or know-how to do so?

Are you a farmer who perhaps would like to expand his skills by opening a small business to help supplement farming income?

Or if you are just interested in starting a small business, the U.S. Small Business Administration-sponsored Rural Strong Business Resource Expo may be for you.

The expo, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s Roquemore Auditorium.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the South Carolina Small Business Development Center and SCORE, the half-day business expo will focus on the development of rural small businesses and farms.

South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers is the featured guest speaker.

Attendees will be able to:

  • Hear from SBA and USDA representatives about the resources that are available to small businesses and farmers.
  • Learn about the economic development of rural small businesses and farmers within the state.
  • Listen to a panel of business owners and farmers discuss best practices for rural businesses.
  • Network with over 20 different organizations in the state that provide free or low-cost assistance to rural entrepreneurs.
  • Create an action plan to grow or start your rural business.

“There is a trend of disinvestment and people moving out of the rural areas,” South Carolina Small Business Development Center Director Jim Johnson said. “We are trying to figure these things out and try to help individuals find out what are the best models.”

The SBDC is administered through the SBA.

Johnson said last year the USDA and the SBA signed memorandum of understanding to do more work in the rural areas to help small business grow and thrive.

Johnson said there is also a “big push” on the part of the state’s Department of Commerce to help rural counties with business development.

The expo is the first of many to be held across the rural counties of the state in 2019.

Johnson said while the event is being promoted to rural small business owners and farmers, anyone interested in starting a small business is encouraged to attend.

“There will be a lot of resources there not just federal resources but state and local,” Johnson said.

Individuals can register at www.sba.gov/sc or if they do not have Internet access registration can be done in person at the expo.

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