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Dec. 22, 2017

The Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta release report on rural businesses

Richmond, Va.

The Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta today issued the sixth in a series of reports that examines the results of an annual survey of small business owners. The Report on Rural Firms compares the business and financing conditions of small employer firms located in rural areas to that of urban areas.

The report found that rural small employer firms are more stable, have fewer financial challenges and rely more heavily on small banks. Overall, the survey shows:

  • Just 23 percent of rural small employer firms are growing compared to 30 percent of urban firms.
  • Thirty percent of rural small employer firms are more than 20-years-old compared to 22 percent of urban firms.
  • Rural small employer firms are less likely to apply for financing to expand their business and, on average, have better credit.
  • Fifty-five percent of rural small employer firms experienced financial challenges in the prior 12 months compared to 62 percent of urban firms.

Additional reports on the 2016 Small Business Credit Survey that were released in 2017 take an in-depth look into other specific types of small businesses, including startups, microbusinesses, women-owned, and minority-owned.

About the Small Business Credit Survey

The Survey collects information about business performance, financing needs, and choices and borrowing experiences of firms with 500 or fewer employees. Responses to the Survey provide insight into the dynamics behind aggregate lending trends and about noteworthy segments of small businesses. The results are weighted to reflect the full population of small businesses. The Survey is not a random sample; therefore, results should be analyzed with awareness of potential methodological biases.

The Survey was launched in 2014 through an effort that merged the regional surveys conducted by several Federal Reserve Banks. The 2016 Survey is the first iteration that was conducted on a national scale with involvement from all 12 Federal Reserve Banks and input collected across all 50 states. The 2016 Survey collected 15,991 responses in total, 10,303 of which were from employer firms (firms with at least one employee in addition to the firm owner).


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District—including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia—to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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