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U.S. leaders tour small businesses in Kane, part of ‘Investing in Rural America Tour’

U.S. Sen Bob Casey (left) talks with SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman (middle) and Kane Mayor Brandy Schimp (right) during a tour across rural America.
The Office of U.S. Senator Bob Casey
U.S. Sen Bob Casey (left) talks with SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman (middle) and Kane Mayor Brandy Schimp (right) during a tour across rural America. The trip is meant to highlight small businesses across the country and legislative efforts to support them.

U.S. leaders are touring rural communities across the U.S. to highlight efforts to support small businesses. U.S. Senator Bob Casey and Isabel Casillas Guzman, the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, stopped in Kane in McKean County on Friday.

The Small Business Administration is a federal agency that gives financial and technical support to small businesses. Guzman said Kane is an example for other small towns to follow.

“We're seeing so many new businesses and ideas coming into play in Kane, and so I do think there's a lot to learn from that example," Guzman said.

Guzman said Kane has made great use of grants to revitalize the community and attract business to the area.

During this tour, Guzman said she wanted to get a sense of the challenges small businesses are facing.

“In particular right now, [they’re] dealing with challenges in the marketplace, from inflationary pressures to the workforce development challenges of finding and retaining workers," Guzman said.

Guzman said this feedback will help the SBA tailor its services, which include technical assistance and funding.

Casey and Guzman visited several businesses in Kane on Friday and talked with local officials, including Kate Kennedy. Kennedy is the director of the Chamber of Commerce and a board member for WPSU.

"Our small businesses, the new ones just opening and the ones who have been around for decades, all add so much value to our community. The owners work really hard and stick it out through the good and hard times," Kennedy said. "So to have an opportunity to shine a light on Kane small businesses today is a testimony to them."

“Having a downtown community like Kane is rare," said Sen. Casey following the tour.

Casey said there has been a lot of federal funding to support rural communities like Kane, but it isn’t enough to help slow the projected decline in Pennsylvania’s rural population.

“I think we have to do more. I think we've got to be innovative and thoughtful about how we can help rural communities more directly with very targeted help," Casey said.

Casey pointed to the bipartisan “Rural Partnership and Prosperity Act,” which would create grant programs for urgent needs like childcare, job training or housing. It would also create grants for technical assistance in accessing federal resources.

Casey and other lawmakers introduced that bill in November to the U.S. Senate, which hasn't voted on it yet.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.