Joyce proposes bipartisan bill to ramp up rural community investments

U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) on Oct. 8 sponsored a bipartisan bill to incentivize capital investments in America’s rural communities.

“Small businesses are the lifeline of the Buckeye economy, employing more than 2.2 million Ohioans,” Rep. Joyce said. “Unfortunately, small businesses located in rural areas of our state face unique challenges in accessing capital. It’s critical that we do everything possible to ensure these businesses don’t get left behind as we work to recover from the pandemic.”

The Rural Capital Access Act, H.R. 5521, which Rep. Joyce introduced with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), would expand the ability of the Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) to invest in rural small businesses and improve participation in the Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) program. 

“My bill will help improve access to investment capital for rural businesses, ensuring that each and every Main Street can offer opportunities for new businesses to grow regardless of where they are located,” said Rep. Joyce.

Specifically, H.R. 5521 would allow SBICs to receive an additional $25 million per fiscal year in federally backed leverage, ensuring they are able to take on SBA-backed debt up to $200 million so long as that additional debt is used to invest in rural businesses, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Joyce’s staff.

Additionally, the measure would improve participation in the RBIC program by allowing the SBA, in consultation with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to provide RBICs access to unused federally backed leverage authorized for SBICs; establish an interagency working group between the SBA, USDA, and industry stakeholders to improve coordination in administering the SBIC and RBIC programs; and develop recommendations to further improve access to capital and investment in rural areas through these programs, the summary says.

H.R. 5521 is the U.S. House version of the identical bill, S. 1058, sponsored in March by U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Deb Fischer (R-NE) in the Senate.

The proposed bill is supported by the Small Business Investor Alliance.