FILE - Rural Nevada Town

Historic downtown buildings in rural Ely, Nevada.

(The Center Square) – Over 20 businesses in rural Nevada are receiving up to $25,000 in forgivable loans, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) said on Monday.

Of the more than 300 small businesses that applied to the Rural Business Assistance (RUBA) Program 22 are receiving awards. The businesses receiving the awards represent Carson, Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Nye, Washoe, and White Pine counties.

“The overwhelming response from rural business owners who applied to the RUBA program demonstrates the considerable demand for small business funding in combination with technical assistance,” said Patty Herzog, GOED’s director of rural economic and community development.

To help rural small businesses get back on tract following the pandemic, GOED launched the RUBA program in August in partnership with the Audacity Institute, a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs from underserved communities start businesses, and the City of Wells.

GOED awarded the two entities $500,000 from federal CARES Act funds to support the award program. The City of Wells was responsible for administering the funds while the Audacity Institute was responsible for managing the application process and promoting RUBA through an awareness campaign that ran on public radio.

“Rural business owners face systemic barriers in access to capital and resources to support them in building and growing businesses of the future,” Danielle Rees, managing partner at the Audacity Institute, said in a statement.  “Reliable internet access is another challenge, which is why we went old school with our outreach efforts.”

Of the more than 300 applications, 55% came from female-owned businesses and another 25% came from minority-owned businesses, GOED said. Nine percent of applicants were veterans and another 11% were either Black, indigenous, Native American, or of Asian-Pacific Islander descent.

Wells City Manager Jolene Supp said the diversity of the applicant pool shows that “there are hundreds of small businesses who would benefit greatly from this program.”

“Additional funding to support rural businesses would make a dramatic difference in our rural economies,” Supp said in a statement.