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President Announces New Jobs Initiatives for Rural America

The President announced new initiatives recommended by the White House Rural Council for creating jobs in rural America.  These initiatives are intended to help rural small businesses access capital, expand rural job search and training services, and increase rural access to healthcare workers and technology.   CompTIA has long-noted similar needs within the small IT community – whether rural or urban.

Included in these initiatives are: 

· $350 million in SBA funding over the next five years to rural small businesses through the agency’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.  This doubles the funding level previously available under this program. 

· A series of conferences to connect private equity and venture capital investors with rural start-ups, as well as creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments. 

· Assistance to rural hospitals and clinicians to purchase software and hardware to implement health IT.  This will be accomplished through an agreement between USDA and HHS that will link rural hospitals and clinicians to existing capital loan programs that enable them to purchase software and hardware needed to implement health IT.

While we welcome these new initiatives to provide additional funding to SBIC and to connect venture capital with promising start-up companies, we continue to see a need for similar assistance to existing IT businesses – which also have the promise of creating high-wage, sustainable jobs across the country, including rural settings.  Encouraging start-up companies is an admirable goal, but it is also important to lend needed assistance to small businesses that already have passed through the start-up stage. 

We also commend the expansion of funds for the acquisition of health IT systems by rural hospital and clinicians.  This is clearly needed.  However, the need is much broader.  While we recognize that rural practices have been slow in adopting health IT, we also note the same problem exists in small healthcare practices across the country.  We must do more to assist medical practitioners to transition to health IT, and a very important step in this process would be to recognize that the health IT provider is an essential partner in this process.