How many Black Belt counties are in SLC member states?
The Black Belt is a string of counties that stretches from east Texas, through the deep South, and up into eastern Virginia. It is the largest, poorest, most rural region in the country. While definitions vary, the region typically is considered to encompass upwards of 623 counties across 11 states, mostly rural, crossing several smaller regions, including parts of the Mississippi Delta, Coastal Plain, and the Piedmont. The Black Belt is not a contiguous region, with small breaks scattered intermittently. It is this geographic irregularity that has, in many ways, hindered the development of a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges in the region as well as the development of a regional identity, such as those that helped to steer resources to the Appalachians and the Mississippi Delta. For further information, see the 2009 SLC Regional Resource, Capital Access in the Black Belt.
(click on headers to sort by column)
|State||Black Belt Counties||Total Counties||Percent Black Belt|
Capital Access in the Black Belt
Accessing Capital for Rural Economic Development
The Rural Lens
It is important that as people concerned with the health and success of rural America, we look at activities and policies with a "rural lens." This means that when any policy action is considered, its impact on rural communities and the people who live there is considered, with respect to economic development, too much of economic development is repeating what worked, which drives investment and resources to metropolitan areas and industries. Rural places are different in many ways, not the least of which is the importance to the rural economy of small businesses and microenterprise. Adding a few jobs to several existing enterprises in a rural place can have as great and impact for less investment that importing a new industry from somewhere else. Honoring the existing community asset base, and building on the advantages rural places have in many ways, will help to map the path to a more prosperous rural future.
My comments this morning will take a broad look at the capital available for rural development, with some attention paid to the role of state government in rural capital. I will focus my discussion principally on capital for entrepreneurs and rural businesses, with some discussion of programs to serve communities as well. Finally, I will share with you a handful of notable programs from around the country that stand out for their excellence in serving particular needs in their communities or for their strength in serving rural communities.
I think it will be of use to begin with what may be review for everyone, but which sets the stage for our later discussion.
With regard to economic development, there are essentially two types of capital: debt and equity. Debt is capital that an entrepreneur has to pay back. Equity is capital that an investor gives up to become a part owner in the company.
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