Making Entrepreneurship Accessible in Rural America

1. Need: Rural Entrepreneurship is Declining, and it Matters

Rural America and entrepreneurship.

While historically rural America has had a higher rate of entrepreneurship than more populated urban and suburban areas, every year since 2008, more businesses in rural America have closed than started (2021, Economic Innovation Group).

By 2018, the number of new startups launched in rural areas was 44% below its peak in 1995 (2021, Economic Innovation Group).

This troubling trend was then accelerated by the unique and devastating challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.


From 1992 to 1996, counties with fewer than 100,000 residents added jobs and businesses more than twice as fast as counties with more than 1 million residents. (2021, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Investing in Rural Prosperity)

Business starts are declining. 

Of course, businesses close in urban areas too. But they fail at a faster rate in rural areas.

Plus, the number of new businesses in rural areas is outpaced by business closures. That means the total number of businesses in rural areas is declining at an alarming rate.


Approximately one in five Americans lives in a rural area, while rural areas make up 97% of America’s land mass. (2017, Census Bureau, What is Rural America?”)

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Dive deeper into why rural entrepreneurship is declining and why it matters.

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