REAP Women’s Business Center: Nine Years Running Strong

The REAP Women’s Business Center (WBC) entered its ninth year of funding and its fourth year of sustainability funding in October 2009. To date, REAP business specialists have provided 1,973 hours of counseling to 340 clients and 111 trainings to 1,492 people. Sixty-four percent of those trained were women. Approximately 54 start-up businesses have received assistance.

There is still concern in rural communities about losing businesses as owners retire. Preparing one’s business for sale several years before the desired retirement/sale date is very important. The REAP WBC collaborated with the Cherry County Economic Development Corporation to host a Business Succession seminar featuring Frank Haverkamp, Sunbelt Advisors, in Valentine, Nebraska. The 2010 Small Business Needs Survey indicated this is still an area of interest for training, so the REAP WBC will be continuing these types of sessions.

The collaboration continues with the University of Nebraska-Extension and Northeast Community College in providing Computer Basics sessions in Spanish. Several other Microsoft Office sessions were held in collaboration with the Minden area resource providers.

A Business Plan Basics course was held in the Southeast region, and one Hispanic Business Plan Basics course was offered in Imperial. Both English and Spanish sessions are planned in the Southeast, North Central and Northeast areas for fall.

Marketing continues to be one of the most requested topics of businesses across the state. The REAP WBC collaborated with other entities to offer a variety of sessions including: Effective Marketing Campaigns, Facebook for Business, Why Do I Need the Internet, Making Traditional Media Work.

The REAP WBC continues the collaboration with the Community Economic Development Clinic of Creighton University. Milo Alexander has presented sessions on legal business structures in several locations with more planned. The Clinic recently received grant funding to continue this opportunity, as well as work on an individual basis with eligible clients.

Local REAP Associations/Roundtables, though few in number, continue to provide that critical support system for each other as small business owners. They offer opportunities to learn about techniques, tools and skills to improve their businesses and benefit from the networking. Topics that have been covered include: Social Media and Your Business, The Importance of Customer Service, Secrets to Increasing Sales, etc.

The REAP WBC reprinted a Bookkeeping Basics Guide developed by Connie Harvey, Efficiency Counts, which is used with the Mobile Laptop Lab across the state doing QuickBooks training with REAP members. Sessions have been held in Central City, Palmer, O’Neill, Chambers, Atkinson, Ainsworth and Scottsbluff. Approximately 50 businesses have been assisted through these sessions. More sessions have been planned for the upcoming months in the Southeast and North Central regions.

The REAP Business Update quarterly newsletter is one of the means (along with the website- http://www.cfra.org/reap ) we use to provide information to our members. If you are not receiving the Update and would like to, please provide us a current email address by sending an email to Peggy Mahaney (peggym@cfra.org) and request to be added to the list.

REAP staff continue to collaborate with other organizations and networks to provide information, training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners across Nebraska.

For more information on the REAP Women’s Business Center, contact Monica Braun, WBC Director, at 402.643.2673 or monicab@cfra.org.