Access to capital for rural businesses and lenders focus of federal agency meeting

The former Regions Bank building on the Square in downtown Troy, acquired the University in July 2017, will serve as home to an entrepreneurial incubator and business learning center for Sorrel College of Business students. (TROY photo/Clif Lusk)

A federal partnership aimed at increasing small business access to capital is the focus of a meeting hosted by Troy University’s Small Business Development Center.

“Rural Strong – Alabama,” a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, hopes to stimulate rural economic development by increasing opportunities for access to capital. The session targets small businesses in rural areas of the state and lenders in those areas.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18 at the TROY SBDC office at 63 S. Court Square in downtown Troy, in the former Regions Bank building. Lunch will be served, but reservations are due by Thursday, June 13. The meeting is free to attend, and concludes at 1:30 p.m.

“The initiative will educate our small businesses and lenders about capital access opportunities available through USDA and the SBA, and the other resources available to them in rural areas,” said Judy Callin, director of TROY’s SBDC. “Understanding the sources of funding available through both federal agencies, and Alabama SBDC’s capital access program led by Finance Specialist Suzanne Darden, can have a significant impact on the economy of our region of the state.”

Sessions will cover USDA Rural Development, the Alabama SBDC Network, and offerings of the Small Business Administration. SBA District Director Tom Todt, Senior Area Manager Brent McMahan, USDA Area Director Landra Siegfried, and USDA Business and Cooperative Specialist Marcia Johnson will participate in the seminar. Greg Jones, Associate Dean of the Sorrell College of Business, will provide welcoming comments.

In addition to representatives of the federal agencies, Howard Willis, a senior vice president and government guaranteed lending specialist with United Bank, will discuss the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund; Emily VanScyoc, community and economic development director for the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission, will address planning and development topics; Matt Parker, president of the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce, will discuss “Grow Southeast Alabama;” Caleb Goodwyn, an economic development representative, will present PowerSouth Energy Cooperative information; business advisor D’Undray Peterson will discuss LiftFund; and Callin and Betsy Baker, a senior advisor, will provide an overview of the Alabama Small Business Development Network.

To register, visit t call 334-770-2620. For more information on the program, contact Marcia Johnson via email to