Todd Brantley
Senior Director of Public Affairs
NC Rural Center

Troubling Signs For Health of Rural Small Businesses
New Report From the NC Rural Center and Thread Capital Shows Sharp Decline in Small Business Lending in Rural Counties
RALEIGH - A new joint report from the NC Rural Center  an d Thread Capital shows that a decade after the Great Recession, North Carolina's small  businesses are still struggling to recover and catch up with their urban counterparts in th e state.

The report,  Small Business Dynamism in North Carolina , found that North Carolina small businesses have fewer brick-and-mortar banks operating in their communities and significantly less access to the critical commercial capital needed to start, sustain, or grow their businesses.
Key findings include:
  • Between 2005 and 2015, there was a seven percent decline in very small business  establishments in rural North Carolina (compared to a nine percent gain in urban counties).
  • Between 2010 and 2015, there were 165 bank branch reductions in rural North Carolina (compared to 32 reductions in urban counties).
  • Between 2005 and 2015, rural counties experienced a 61 percent decline in small business lending, for a total decline of more than $1.6 billion.

"Our state's rural economies are built on the hard work of the men and women who dare to start their own businesses," said Rural Center President P atrick Woodie." We as a state must address the growing chasm of capital access between our rural and urban counties. The economic engines of our largest urban counties might drive our state's economy, but it is the rural small business owner who sustains our local communities."

Since the end of the Great Recession in 2009, the recovery in North Carolina has been a tale of two states, with urban and suburban counties returning to and even surpassing many of their pre-Recession economic indicators. In the state's rural counties, however, where local economies have historically been more dependent on manufacturing and small business jobs, the recovery is still a work in progress.
"The combination of decline in local bank branches and small business lending is the result of multiple economic factors, and suggests that any sustainable solution
requires a broad coalition of public and private partners," said Thread Capital Executive Director Jonathan Brereton. "If we hope to have a rural economy that is thriving and growing, we must reverse the negative  trends we see in this data. We call for a collaborative effort led by our elected leaders and our  local governments in close partnership with our state's private lenders."

The full report can be read here, and an interactive database that shows small business dynamism in each of the state's 100 counties can be viewed here.

About the NC Rural Center
For 30 years, the NC Rural Center has worked to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Center serves the state's 80 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low-to-moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.

About Thread Capital
Thread Capital is a nonprofit organization committed to building a more robust, inclusive ecosystem of entrepreneurship in North Carolina, one that gives everyone an opportunity to achieve their small business dreams. We do that by weaving together capital, coaching, and connections to create a new era of entrepreneurship across the state.