Now That’s Impressive: Entrepreneurs Build their Businesses

Small business activity in Western Nebraska has been very brisk for the REAP Program over the past year. It seems that maybe things might start to slow down, but the telephone rings with small business owners, banks, economic development administrators, and chamber executives wanting to know more about the REAP program that is offered through the Center for Rural Affairs. They are seeking help or have been contacted by existing business owners wanting to know where to go for help with business plans, financing, or bookkeeping and accounting questions.

Loan activity in Western Nebraska over this past year has seen five new startup businesses and four business acquisitions receiving REAP program technical assistance, direct loans, or loan packaging assistance for close to $1,000,000 and providing over 20 new jobs. Jerry Terwilliger

A Business Plan Basics Training in Spanish was held this spring in Imperial. Eight participants met weekly for five sessions to learn about Marketing, Customer Relations, Financial Management, Advertising and Promotion and Goal Setting. The course was taught by Octavio Aragon, a public accountant in Mexico who studied Accounting at the Universidad Autonoma de Chihuahua. The sessions were co-sponsored by the City of Imperial, Adams Bank and Trust, Pinnacle Bank and First Bank and Trust Company. Nancy Flock

In early August, collaboration with Creighton School of Law brought a legal clinic to Grand Island, Nebraska. The clinic was held in Spanish and had a total of six participants, mostly entrepreneurs, with some participants who were looking to start their own business in the future. Milo Alexander, Director of the Community Economic Development Clinic at Creighton University School of Law, presented information about the pros and cons of the different legal structures. The clinic was co- sponsored by the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce. Nancy Flock

A Creighton School of Law class was hosted in West Point on June 24, 2010 at the Donald E. Nielsen Community Center in company with REAP. Milo Alexander, Director of the Community Economic Development Clinic (CEDC), talked about Choice and Creation Business Structures, a brief explanation of the Nebraska Tax Application Form, Application for Registration of Trade Name, and other information to facilitate the process of establishing a new business.

Hispanic Business owners and new prospectors discussed in their own language – Spanish – the pros and cons of being a sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company, Corporation and Partnerships as well as information about how to register their business legal name and the process to apply for a Sales Tax number. A question and answer time was held at the end of the session.

The Community Economic Development Clinic is committed to encouraging economic growth and stability within under-served communities in Nebraska, while providing third-year law students a clinical experience. The focus of the CED Clinic is on Non-Profit Organizations, Micro-Enterprise Business and Community Asset Protection. Juan Sandoval

The Center for Rural Affairs is pleased to announce S & S Sweeper Store in Beatrice as the 2009 recipient of the Center for Rural Affairs’ REAP Small Business of the Year. Owners of the store, Deb and Dale Simmons accepted the award at a special banquet held in Kearney on the eve of the Center for Rural Affairs’ MarketPlace conference held on February 24, 2010. The couple was honored for their ingenuity, persistence and entrepreneurial spirit.

The REAP Small Business of the Year Award was created to annually recognize a small business in Nebraska that has built a successful small business and utilized REAP services to help with the process of growing the business. Janelle Moran

The REAP Women’s Business Center collaborated with the Merrick County Foundation in facilitating QuickBooks sessions and a Business Plan Training in the Fall of 2009. A Merrick County Roundtable Group formed from the training. They are meeting on a bi-monthly basis to network with each other. QuickBooks sessions were also offered in Merrick County in the spring of 2010. Monica Braun

A Columbus REAP Roundtable group formed in the spring of 2010. They meet on a monthly basis and have invited the Butler County and Merrick County REAP members to join them. In July the meeting was held at member Lanette Stec’s Erstwhile Farm, LLC. Members were treated to a delicious meal made from food produced on the farm and enjoyed a hayrack ride around the farm. Monica Braun

The REAP WBC along with the Columbus Area Chamber, Central Community College and Nebraska Business Coaching, LLC hosted Sally Cohen with eGrowth Marketing, Omaha, and Dennis Kahl, UN-L Extension, for a session on “Why Do I Need the Internet?” in Columbus in May. Information about Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) for Small Business was presented with a hands-on session included. Participants were able to create a Facebook page. Monica Braun

The Rocking Chair Inn Bed & Breakfast located in Broken Bow, Nebraska has recently expanded to offer two guest rooms with private baths. Guests have the option of a suite with a shower/whirlpool tub and kitchenette or the cozy Victorian room. Innkeeper Cindy Nickle and her dog Scooter, AKA the Welcoming Committee, have come a long way since establishing the business in 2006.

Cindy has attended several REAP trainings in the area including QuickBooks, Marketing to Different Generations and Creighton School of Law, served on the Nebraska Bed & Breakfast Association board, and is a member of the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce. With Cindy’s expansion, she was able to take advantage of the Nebraska Microenterprise Tax Credit while using REAP financing to expand her business. Dena Beck

Nicole Sedlacek, Holt County Economic Development director was selected as the 2009 recipient of the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Extra Mile Award.

Nicole has engaged in collaborative efforts with other agencies and organizations to assist all types of businesses-whether existing, start up or in the planning stages. When alternative financing is required, Nicole has utilized local revolving loan funds and other programs.

She is not only an asset to Holt County, but also a friend to REAP. Referrals are an important component for REAP’s success, and Nicole refers many clients for assistance with business plans, financial projections and loan applications. REAP salutes her for her role in Economic Development for Holt County. Eugene Rahn

The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project collaborated with the Holt County Economic Development Office in facilitating five QuickBooks trainings for Holt County Businesses in the summer and fall of 2009. Patty Barstow, Springview, was the instructor for all the trainings. A collaborative effort is currently underway with Kristin Simonson-Olson, North Central Development Center of Ainsworth, to complete a series of QuickBooks trainings in Brown County and the surrounding area. Eugene Rahn

Four REAP staff and REAP-assisted entrepreneurs Brad and Gina Babb were in Washington DC from May 11-14, 2010 and attended the Association for Enterprise Opportunity’s yearly conference. Brad and Gina Babb were invited by the Association for Enterprise Opportunity to speak at the conference. The Babb’s spoke to over 500 conference attendees during the luncheon on May 11. In addition to attending the conference, REAP staff and the Babb’s had meetings with Nebraska’s Congressmen and Senators on Capitol Hill.

The Association for Enterprise Opportunity performed a nationwide search to find four outstanding small businesses. The purpose of the search was to film a documentary that shows the importance of microenterprise development in the United States. The Association for Enterprise Opportunity is the trade association for microenterprise development programs in the US. In Nebraska, the Nebraska Enterprise Fund is the equivalent of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity at the State level.

A small business assisted by REAP was chosen as one of the four small businesses from the across the country to be filmed. Bradley and Gina Babb, the owners of Sandhills Glass and Garage Doors at Ord, Nebraska, were the business chosen.

You can click on the following link to view the video and click play: