The Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) has been awarded a USDA Rural Development grant to provide specialized assistance to rural businesses and entrepreneurs in five Arizona communities that have been hard hit by the latest economic downturn and the worst wildfires in state history.  Known as the Rural Arizona Business Entrepreneurial Accelerator, the program will target Alpine, Bisbee, Clifton, Nogales and Somerton.

“Our Entrepreneurial Accelerator will provide small business owners and entrepreneurs in these areas with a tool kit of resources to help them make money and save money,” said Donna Davis, CEO of ASBA. “We know that small businesses are critical to our economic recovery, and in these particular rural areas that have suffered from the recession and the wildfires, the need for solutions has never been greater.”

Starting in Nogales, AZ in January 2012 and moving north each month, ASBA will visit each community bringing along resource partners like National Bank of Arizona and SCF Arizona; training and business coaching partners like Constant Contact and the International Coach Federation and mentoring experts from ASBA’s own T.I.M.E. Mentoring Program.  Day 1 will include a community reception or town hall meeting providing an opportunity to meet local business owners and entrepreneurs to learn what issues they are facing that are most critical.  Day 2 will feature timely, relevant business training and a resource fair focusing in on topics and information that can help the businesses make money and save money. 

One of the top challenge facing businesses is a lack of sales and weak demand for their products and services.   This is especially evident in these rural communities and towns who are in dire need of assistance having faced issues like the Wallow and Monument Fires, unemployment rates ranging from 8% to nearly 28% and a severe lack of resources.  Through the grant, businesses will also receive a one-year membership to the Arizona Small Business Association which will open up multiple opportunities for them to market themselves to the other 11,000+ ASBA members throughout the state, thus sparking new sales and opportunities.

“Our ultimate goal is to help these businesses sustain, survive and grow,” says Davis.  The grant project will finish up in Alpine, AZ in May 2012. 

About ASBA The Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) is the largest trade association in the state representing 11,000+ member businesses, and over ½ million employees in all 15 counties.   ASBA members enjoy access to significant group discounts, countless opportunities to do business with each other, a wide array of insurance products, and active advocacy efforts on public policy issues to protect their businesses.   Discover more at Join ASBA. Be amAZed®