REAP Goes to Washington to Share Small Business Successes

Small business and rural living are two of my passions. That's why I was delighted to be in the nation's capitol during National Small Business Week.

I work with the Center's small business development program, REAP, and I went to share what we have learned in 20 plus years working with entrepreneurs in small towns and rural communities.

REAP is part of “The Friends of the SBA Microloan Program.” The friends network supports a strong and effective Microloan Program at the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Through the network, organizations like ours keep policymakers updated on how SBA resources are being used to finance, support, and grow small businesses and create jobs in communities across the country. REAP was one of the first batch of programs chosen to run a pilot microlending program back in 1991.

I had the good fortune of traveling with Connie Harvey. Connie owns Efficiency Counts, a small business based in Hastings, Nebraska. She is also a board member of the Center for Rural Affairs.

Connie helped us develop a QuickBooks training specifically for rural small businesses. Her own business benefited from SBA Microloan funds when she needed to expand.

While in Washington D.C., we spoke to Congressional staff with the House Small Business Committee as well as key staff with the Small Business Administration. We talked about the importance of small business and alternative lending sources.

It’s always good to connect with folks in D.C. and tell the stories of our businesses, share our successes as a program, and talk about needed changes to stay current with the economy and the changing needs of our customers. This year was special with Connie along. Hearing from people working out in the field is one thing. But when a business talks about their journey, struggles, and successes, it makes it very real.

Connie says she, “gleaned a lot about how advocating in Washington works. I was really impressed with the caliber of REAP and the other intermediaries that came from all over the United States. ... Real-life stories are the most effective means of getting our points across.”

I was astonished to learn that 8,000 small and micro business owner credit applications are declined each business day. That's why programs like REAP and the SBA Microloan are so vital to building assets, jobs, and communities.

Feature image: That's me, Dena Beck, in the back row, fifth from the left. Connie Harvey is in the front row, far left.