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The Small Business Rural/Urban Divide Part 1: Economic Anxiety Persists
February 2, 2023
The Small Business Rural/Urban Divide Part 1: Economic Anxiety Persists
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Infographic about how economic anxiety persists among small business owners

Key Findings

  • Small businesses have rebounded from COVID-19: Across both rural and non-rural locations, a third of small business owners (34.7%) say business has returned to pre-pandemic levels; another four in 10 (42.6%) say business is stronger than it was before the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Rural entrepreneurs are uncertain: Despite their recovery, more than half of small businesses in rural communities (53.3%) feel somewhat or extremely negative about the economy and its effects.
  • Finding customers keeps business owners up at night—and so does inflation: Getting customers is the number one challenge for all small business owners: 54.6% cited it as one of their top three business challenges right now. For rural small business owners, however, inflation and supply chain disruptions also loom large.
  • Cash flow is a conundrum for rural businesses: Rural entrepreneurs are more likely than non-rural entrepreneurs to say they’re impacted by higher costs of doing business (i.e. rent, utilities, gas), as well as higher financing expenses (i.e. higher interest rates, costs to borrow).
  • Outside financing is helpful but elusive: Among all small businesses, two-thirds need outside financing while three-quarters have trouble accessing it. For those in rural areas, scarcity of local bank branches can be an added barrier.
  • Capital, debt relief and infrastructure are possible solutions: Rural and non-rural entrepreneurs agree that access to capital and loan forgiveness/debt relief programs would help them be more successful. Rural entrepreneurs, in particular, said infrastructure improvements also would be beneficial.
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