Rep. Fortenberry Witnesses Benefit of USDA Small Business Program

During the August Congressional recess, Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) joined us on a tour of northeast Nebraska small businesses. Staff from the Northeast Nebraska Development District and USDA Rural Development also joined us.

We visited two small businesses to show the benefits of the USDA Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). This program makes money available for rural small businesses through organizations like the Center for Rural Affairs and the development district.

First up for the tour was Ted’s Covers and Tarps of Fremont. This growing business offers custom production and repair of upholstery, awnings, boat covers, and canvas and vinyl repair. (Ted is featured in the image at the top of the page, second from left.)

Ted had operated his business in his home for 3 years as a small, part-time venture. He wanted to expand and move to a new location. An RMAP loan helped make that possible. In May 2012, Ted’s Covers and Tarps opened full-time in its own building. 

Next up was Black Dog Wood and Steel, a rural Burt County sawmill between Tekamah and Craig, Nebraska. Black Dog specializes in designing and producing decorative wood and steel products. Owner Shawn Qualley hopes to benefit from a USDA RMAP loan. Unfortunately, the money has not been available yet. Demand is so great, there is a waiting list. 

Tours like these are important in building support for programs that support rural small businesses and communities. Representative Fortenberry’s role on the House Appropriations Committee is vital for rural Nebraska. We are grateful he took the time to see the positive impact of programs like RMAP.