What tools does USDA have to help rural communities and businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic? First, USDA must promote business investment in the middle of the country according to former advisor to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Matt McKenna, who now heads the Rural Opportunity Initiative at Georgetown University.
There is an abundance of innovative businesses in the middle of the country that should be attractive to investment capital, McKenna told AgDay’s Clinton Griffiths on Farm Journal Live, but investors rarely venture far from the coasts. McKenna said that leaves few options for rapidly growing startups in the middle of America.
“The banks that I grew up with, when they were on Main Street, aren’t there anymore, and a lot of times the traditional source of venture capital investment isn’t there anymore,” they’ve gone to bigger cities,” McKenna said. “We need to find excuses to have those bankers look back on rural America and look back for those investment opportunities that are, in my premises, they’re more than present there, and very very popular, very very good deals and a great, great source of job growth.”
Hear McKenna’s full prescription for recovery for rural America in the recording of Farm Journal Live above.