Celebrating Rural Life and Building the Economy Business by Business

At the end of 2014, I traveled to Brookings, South Dakota, to visit friends. As we were eating, a couple seated at our table began to complain about rural living. I don’t remember if I used to be as passionate about rural communities as I am today. Nowadays I can’t keep my mouth shut. I started highlighting all the positive things of living in smaller communities.

One of the main positives is working with you, rural entrepreneurs. I get to do that everyday at the Center for Rural Affairs through our small business development program, the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) and in my role as director of the Hispanic Business Center.

A great example is David Ramirez, owner of La Mexicanita in Nebraska City, shown above with his partner Carmen. David had a loan with us last year to expand his business. He paid it off quickly. Today, he is working with us again on another loan to move to a bigger location, purchase inventory, and remodel. This is the 3rd location for the business, made possible because of REAP and the Center for Rural Affairs.

Last year was an extraordinary one for us. We worked with 221 Latino small business owners across Nebraska. We facilitated trainings to assist 587 individuals. By the end of the year, we had contacted and provided assistance to 2,142 Hispanic micro entrepreneurs.

We're eager to take on new challenges in 2015. We plan to increase the number of loans granted to Latino business owners, create new and innovative products, and, if possible, BREAK all records in the 10-year existence of the REAP Hispanic Business Center.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Juan Sandoval, at juans@cfra.org.