Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Ohio's Rural Communities Emphasize Teamwork, Promote Best Use of Resources

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Ohio's Rural Communities Emphasize Teamwork, Promote Best Use of Resources

Article excerpt

Although agriculture is Ohio's No. 1 industry, rural areas are sometimes over-looked in favor of the state's "Three C's" -- Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

The Ohio Rural Enterprise Project (OREP) was designed just for Ohio's rural areas, targeting development resources to small communities. The service is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development. Services include loan funds and technical assistance on small business development issues, including environmental regulations.

Community Development: Project Good START

Good START (Small Town Assessment & Readiness Techniques) staff works with community leaders and small business owners on strategies to bolster the small business base.

The first step is to conduct a community a survey in which all residents have a chance at input. Other steps include one-on-one interviews and community forums.

With input from the community, leaders can create a blueprint to make development happen. So far, 17 communities have used the process to assess where they are and where they want to go.

Regulatory Assistance: EASE Center

OREP also targets services to small rural businesses. Environmental regulations can be baffling to small business owners. To clear up the confusion, OREP offers the EASE Center, or Environmental Awareness for Small Enterprise. EASE provides guidance on environmental regulations. Small businesses can turn to EASE without fear of penalties or fines.

"It's intimidating for a small business owner to call the EPA directly for advice on these issues," said Robin Richter, Associate Director of Environmental Programs. …

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