A ribbon cutting in Billings on May 22 marked a first in the nation – a merging of efforts by the US Small Business Administration and USDA Rural Development. 

Dan Nordberg, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Region VIII Administrator, and Charles Robison, USDA Rural Development (USDA) Montana State Director, joined other dignitaries at 1629 Avenue D, Bldg. A6 to announce the establishment of a new SBA satellite office that will serve businesses in Eastern Montana. 

The office is co-locating with the USDA Rural Development in the Billings USDA Service Center, which launches the innovative economic development focus, which will target rural Montana small businesses.  This joint SBA/USDA office will serve as a model for future cooperative federal government agency arrangements in the country.

The new office will be led by SBA Senior Area Manager Martin Dewitt, who is experienced in working on rural economic development issues.

“Bridging the gap between urban and rural population centers, and ensuring that small businesses in rural areas have the same access to capital and business counseling services as their urban counterparts, is a top priority for the Trump Administration,” said Nordberg. “By partnering with USDA to open this office, we’re fulfilling that commitment and establishing a hub that will better serve Montana’s small Main Street businesses”

In April 2018, then SBA Administrator Linda McMahon and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue signed a Memorandum of Understanding to better synchronize the business development and lending programs of the two departments to more effectively assist entrepreneurs located in rural areas. The SBA’s Montana district office is located in Helena, and this new satellite location brings SBA staff closer to businesses located in the eastern part of the state.

“President Trump has made rural prosperity a priority. Secretary Sonny Perdue has challenged USDA to carry out that priority by working closely with our partners at the SBA to promote rural economic development,” said Robison  “When rural Montana prospers, all Montana prospers. “

Small business is truly big business in Montana.  With more than 120,000 small firms in the state, employing over 245,000 Montanans, this focus on rural entrepreneurs has been a priority for the president and his administration.   This joint office will play a critical role in making access to both SBA’s and USDA’s programs and services easier to all state residents.

“From Ekalaka to Eureka and Wolf Point to Darby rural small businesses, and the jobs they create, are the lifeblood of Montana. The success of these businesses brings with them robust rural communities,” states Wayne Gardella, SBA’s Montana District Director who is based in Helena.