REAP staff kept busy during 2016

Opportunity Finance Network Conference

Staff Jeff Reynolds, Juan Sandoval, Dena Beck and Kim Preston attended the Opportunity Finance Network Conference in Detroit, Mich., in November 2015. The conference provided an opportunity to further explore the possibilities of obtaining Community Development Financial Institution status. Staff made a number of key contacts.

Association for Enterprise Opportunity

Several staff attended the Association for Enterprise Opportunity national conference in Washington, D.C. in May 2016. This was the 25th anniversary of this conference and provided an opportunity for training as well as to improve technical assistance skills.

Nebraska Economic Developers Association

REAP participates with the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA), an association of professional economic developers dedicated to the prosperous growth of Nebraska’s business climate. Several staff attended the 2016 NEDA conference at South Sioux City in April 2016 and set up a booth.

Staff Training

Staff received training throughout the year on a number of topics through various venues including webinars and face-to-face trainings. One training was the National Development Council’s Business Credit Analysis course at Mesa, Ariz., in June 2016, attended by three staff.

Annual Awards

Annual awards were distributed at the Center for Rural Affairs Awards Banquet in March 2016 at Columbus: REAP Friend of the Year, Pat Coldiron, Liberty House Bed & Breakfast, Seward; REAP Extra Mile Award,  First Central Bank of Curtis; REAP Women’s Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year, Colleen Rickard, C-Pap Easy Clean, LLC, Axtel; and REAP Latino Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year, Arcadio and Ebodio Zepeda, Tu Casa, Norfolk.

The Center for Rural Affairs Entrepreneur Award, for an innovative person working with REAP who is in the forefront of microenterprise development, was awarded to Greg and Kristy Parr, Custom Sports, Norfolk.

Partnerships and Networking

Staff members participate with resource network meetings, U.S. Small Business Administration Resource Partner meetings, and in other groups such as the NET-Force, to keep abreast of what other resource providers have to offer. These networks inform others about REAP services, keep referral networks current, and help us assist clientele to the best of our abilities.

Planning, Planning, Planning

Numerous meetings were held throughout the year on the development of a Community Development Financial Institution and other key program initiatives.

Latino Microenterprise Assistance

The Latino Business Center continues to grow, providing key business development services to rural Latino entrepreneurs. The program impacted over 1,100 Latino start-up and existing entrepreneurs during the past year. 46 Latino entrepreneurs obtained a REAP loan and/or leverage loan.

Survey Work

REAP is in the process of completing the fifth biennial “Small Business Needs Assessment Survey.” The survey, administered every two years, will help determine the current needs of rural entrepreneurs in Nebraska. If you would like a program delivered to your community or organization, please contact Dena Beck, at 308.528.0060 or denab@cfra.org.

Office Hours

Loan specialists continue to provide local office hours at numerous chamber and economic development offices across the state. The arrangement with local offices has provided an efficient way of meeting with clients, while building partnerships with community leaders.

Collaboration

We collaborate with many organizations and individuals. For example, REAP, Community Development Resources and Catholic Charities-Microbusiness Training and Development Program, formed a collaboration informally known as the Nebraska Small Business Collaborative (NSBC).

The NSBC provides microenterprise businesses technical assistance and micro-loans in all distressed areas of Nebraska.