Horner is Women's Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year

Linda Horner, of Ord, Nebraska, has been chosen as the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2016 Women’s Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year. She was recognized at an award ceremony on March 10 in York, Nebraska.

The Women’s Business Center Entrepreneur of the Year Award is presented annually to an individual who has utilized the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Women’s Business Center services and is successfully operating and growing their business. The award exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit so crucial to women-owned businesses and the rural Nebraska communities they call home.

“Linda is a true entrepreneur willing to take a chance starting a new business, expanding that business, making the change to a larger facility, and overcoming many obstacles, all while maintaining a positive attitude,” said Monica Braun, REAP Women’s Business Center director.

“This year, I wanted to nominate someone who has a successful business, who has a history with REAP, who has proven they can fly as an entrepreneur, and who provides a service to the community they live and work in,” said Gene Rahn, REAP senior loan specialist, who works closely with the business owner. “It was easy for me to nominate Linda who owns Linda’s Preschool & Discovery Center.”

In 2003, Linda and her husband Paul received an initial loan from a bank, and a REAP loan provided gap financing to complete the purchase and conversion of the building into a daycare. Then, she worked with former REAP staff member Phil Menke. She now works with Gene.

“Linda has a long track record as a great client,” Gene said. “Because of that, she has been able to access emergency financing from us when unexpected plumbing or electrical problems have come up. We hope there are no future emergencies, but if one arises, we will not hesitate to assist where needed.”

In 2013, Linda and her husband, Paul, purchased a new building. They had bank financing and a loan from a local revolving loan fund.

“They got down towards the end of it, and the construction costs overran,” Gene said. “We were able to step in and do a loan to take care of that.”

Linda’s Preschool & Discovery Center has provided care to children for 14 years. Services include preschool education, child care services, and after school programs.

Gene said he doesn’t want to forget Paul who does handiwork.

“He’s the guy who holds the glue together,” he said.”

Looking to the future, Horner hopes to hand down the business to her two daughters who are studying early childhood development. She is also looking at expanding the business to provide services for infants.

“They have been and are a big benefit to the community of Ord, and will be in the future, I’m sure,” Gene said. “She’s been a pleasure to work with.”

“This has been a nightmare since I could remember,” Linda said at the awards dinner. “I would not be here without the help of REAP, the support of my husband, and my family. Thank you very much.”

Feature photo: Linda Horner, left, and Monica Braun, right. (Gene Rahn is in the thumbnail photo.)