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Bridging Nebraska's digital divide through funding and legislative opportunities

The expansion of internet access for rural Nebraska is the focus of a recently released grant funding opportunity and upcoming legislative hearings.

The internet is now one of the most basic modes of how people find employment, attend college, work, handle their finances, and receive medical care. However, especially in rural areas of the state, the internet is not available to be utilized in its full capacity. Nebraska’s Legislature and agencies are seeking to address the issue.

Artist, craftsman, historian: one carpenter, many passions

“Right man, right place, right time,” said Al Leal, president of Al’s Old House Repair, LLC.  

His historic carpentry and renovation business landed him in the “right place” of Red Cloud, Nebraska, a town with fewer than 1,000 people, and at the former home of Pulitzer Prize winning author, Willa Cather, and the internationally known Willa Cather Foundation.

Leal has come a long way since returning to his hometown of Clear Lake, Iowa after serving in the military. He joined the business with nothing more than a borrowed saw and a pair of pliers.

Behavioral and mental health access lags in rural areas

The demographic challenges that try rural communities in nearly all aspects of health care delivery are also prominent in the delivery of behavioral and mental health care services. Rural populations as a whole are older and have fewer financial resources. On average, this population possess higher uninsured and Medicaid rates and more health concerns.

The rural population in Nebraska also follows these trends, as the median age of rural Nebraskans is 44 years of age compared to the urban population median age of 38. In 2015, rural Nebraskans earned $9,400 less in median income than the urban cohort’s median income. Rural Nebraskans also lag in self-reported health status. The rate of uninsured rural Nebraskans is 13 percent compared to 10 percent of urban residents.

Numbers don’t lie: Women’s Business Center stats add up to success

October is Women’s Small Business Month, a perfect time to reflect on the growth and success of Women’s Business Centers all over the U.S.

The Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Women’s Business Center is in its 16th year of funding. Between Sept. 1, 2016, and May 31, 2017, business specialists and contractors have offered:

America's family farmers and ranchers let down 

Family farmers and ranchers have waited years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to institute basic fairness protections in the poultry and livestock industries.

However, last week, officials announced a rollback of two rules of the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA); decided not to move forward with an interim final rule of the Farmer Fair Practices; and said they will take no further action on a proposed regulation of the Farmer Fair Practices Rule.

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