New Network to Connect Rural Businesses to Urban Businesses

Release Date: 

12/22/2008

Contact(s): 

Stephanie Fritz, stephanief@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1021
LYONS, NE - The Center for Rural Affairs has secured a grant from the Economic Development Administration to conduct a pilot program based on a model seen in Europe in which a series of small rural businesses work together in a network that then connects with a larger urban business.
The pilot program will be focused on creation of small businesses in the region that will supply identified needed goods and services to larger metropolitan businesses and will be conducted in 16 northeast Nebraska counties.

This pilot is the result of a research project done by the Center staff two years ago that indicated that there is an opportunity for this type of model to work in rural areas. One of the keys to success of the small business piece is creation of a social network between the businesses as well as inclusion of community in the discussions to further that network.

 Kathie Starkweather, head of the pilot project for the Center for Rural Affairs said, "We are so excited to bring this pilot project to Nebraska, especially in these times. It not only builds Nebraska's rural and urban economy, it also builds lasting ties between urban and rural entrepreneurs."

The UNO College of Information Science & Technology at the Peter Kiewit Institute is part of the project and will supply the technology resources. Students at the institute will work directly with the small businesses to assess their needs in order to enhance their success in this project.

The Center for Rural Affairs' Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) will fill the need for training, technical assistance, and where needed, micro-lending.

The project runs through December 2009.  Funding is being pursued to ensure that the project can continue and be replicated in other locations in the state.

"This is an innovative project that we think will have an important impact that can be replicated in other locations in the state," commented Starkweather.  
For further information contact Stephanie Fritz at stephanief@cfra.org or (402) 687-2103 ext. 1021.  Informational meetings will be held early next year with dates to be determined.   

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