COVID-19 and Rural Communities
We understand that the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt throughout the state, and that the economic impacts of closures are going to be significant across the state, including for our rural communities. The intent of the Stay at Home Directive and all other directives is to limit exposure and flatten the curve of this virus. Although many rural communities have few cases, and the goal of all these measures is to keep it that way and reduce exposure as much as possible.
Click here for a list of resources available for business, communities, and individuals during this time. We will continue to update this as more directives come out and we have updated information, including guidance regarding the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
This week, Congress passed a bill for more funding for SBA’s disaster loan and grant programs, including both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Payroll Protection Program (PPP). The SBA will resume accepting PPP loan applications on Monday, April 27 at 8:30AM MST from approved lenders on behalf of any eligible borrower. Please see this fact sheet for information on what businesses can do to be ready for the next round of funding.
Please visit to State’s COVID-19 resource site for more information, as well as MT Department of Health and Human Services for updated information and current cases. You can also call the COVID Hotline at 1-888-333-0461.
The Main Street Project has seen great success, and by many measures our economy is thriving. However, there are still challenges we face, and the promise of economic opportunity is not a reality everywhere in Montana. Job growth has been and continues to be clustered around our urban areas. We also know our rural communities are feeling workforce pressures, aging infrastructure, and broadband is not readily available, or affordable, in many communities.
At the same time, communities across the state are taking it upon themselves to advance economic goals and are making extraordinary progress with limited resources.
Understanding this economic discrepancy within our state and taking what was learned in the first stages of the Main Street project, Governor Bullock and Lt. Governor Cooney launched the Main Street Montana- Rural Partners Initiative in September 2018. The Rural Partners project focuses on empowering small towns in Montana to stay ahead, support their efforts, and ensure economic opportunities are shared throughout the state. We are asking the same questions; What’s working? What isn’t working? How can agencies and programs work better for business and Montanans? We are asking these questions in the context of rural communities and their unique challenges and position.