Rural Strong Washington program comes to Sequim

Small business owners can lean about how to access local and federal resources at a new series of information sessions coming to Sequim later this month.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Seattle District Office — together with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, the City of Sequim and other local partners — have teamed up for Rural Strong Washington, an initiative to spur economic development in Sequim and the Coastal Washington area March 27-29.

Sequim-area sessions are held at the Sequim Library and Sequim Civic Center (see schedule, details below).

The sessions are free and RSVPs not required to attend but highly recommended. Register for all four events at tinyurl.com/2019Sequim.

“The importance of business resilience in small and rural towns cannot be understated,” SBA Seattle District Director Kerrie Hurd said.

“Small businesses create critical local jobs while retaining the character of the community by connecting its history to its future,” Hurd said.” We want businesses on the Olympic Peninsula to know they are not alone. Together with local partners, we want to help them confidently and successfully start, grow and expand.”

Sequim sessions

• HUBZone 101 Info Session — 1-2 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, south meeting room at Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.

An information session designed for small businesses ready to grow, about how to sell to the federal government using a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) certification. According to SBA officials, there are now more HUBZone sole source contracts than there are HUBZone-certified businesses.

• Funding Programs Info Session — 2:30-4 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, Sequim Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St.

Learn about SBA loan programs, USDA Rural Development loan and grant programs and meet one-on-one with local lenders and funding sources in a “speed-dating” setting.

• Small Business Town Hall — 8-10 a.m. Friday, March 29, Sequim Civic Center

An opportunity for current and aspiring small businesses to learn more about all the no-cost and low-cost local resources available to them from the SBA, City of Sequim, North Olympic Development Council (NODC) and other local partners; attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions of business experts and provide feedback on burdensome regulations to the SBA regional advocate.

• Grow Your Business Internationally — 10:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 29, Sequim Civic Center

An information session that takes manufacturers, makers and agribusinesses through the process of exporting and the resources available to help each step of the way.

Access a ‘critical component’

“We realize that access to capital for rural Washington entrepreneurs and businesses is the most critical component for them to thrive,” USDA Rural Development Washington State Director Kirk Pearson said.

“USDA strives to build partnerships with fellow federal agencies and local community partners to facilitate and provide assistance to rural businesses in identifying and accessing the resources they need to be successful.”

Last year, the SBA and USDA signed a national Memorandum of Understanding to provide joint programming and information sessions to empower entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural areas, such as the Funding Programs Info Session March 27.

Sequim Mayor Dennis Smith and Hurd will meet with local economic development partners March 27 and visit local small businesses March 28. Mayor Smith will also speak at the export workshop March 29.

“Sequim has a vibrant economy fueled by small businesses,” Smith said.

“We are delighted to host a set of events by the Small Business Administration to further support and highlight them. The City of Sequim is committed to continuously improving the business climate of our community.”

Those interested in starting or growing their small business can register for the events at tinyurl.com/2019Sequim.

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