Development districts essential in growing small business


By Jeff Reynolds, former staff member

The Center for Rural Affairs has been fortunate to have a strong partnership with Nebraska’s Economic Development Districts. It’s been a boost to both of us. Even better, it's led to startup and expansion of rural businesses through collaborative lending, training, and technical assistance.

In 1994, when our lending program expanded to southeast Nebraska, the key organizations helping out were Five Rivers RC&D and the Southeast Nebraska Development District.

I was the first “Field Service Representative” in southeast Nebraska. No question, without the help of Five Rivers RC&D and the Southeast Nebraska Development District, we would have struggled to get going in that corner of the state. The strong coalition of the RC&D and Development District provided the contacts, knowledge of the area, and referrals to be successful.

David Taladay, Executive Director of the Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD), commented, “Congratulations on your 25th Anniversary! The district was an initial partner in developing micro-business lending in Southeast Nebraska in 1994 and has continued that relationship to this day. As partners in some projects and collaborators in others, we have found your staff to be extremely competent and customer oriented. We have partnered on loan projects and provided technical assistance as well as received guidance from the great people at your organization.”

Over our lending program's 25-year history, the Nebraska Development Districts have played a critical role by providing referrals, collaborating with training activities, partnering in loan packaging situations, and much, much more. The expertise of Development District staff is tremendous and has helped to make a positive impact with rural entrepreneurs.

Here’s what several other Nebraska Development Districts have to say:

“The South Central Economic Development District, Inc. (SCEDD) appreciates the assistance to small businesses provided by the Center for Rural Affairs, specifically Dena Beck and Monica Braun, who have collaborated with us on multiple projects. One of the greatest impacts of this partnership has been the PK Partnership, which offers business training in Phelps and Kearney Counties, specifically the PK EDGE (Enhancing, Developing and Growing Entrepreneurs) Class. The district also depends on Center staff to assist potential and existing businesses, and they are always available and willing to serve the businesses we refer to them.” - Sharon Hueftle, Executive Director of the South Central Economic Development District, Inc.

“The Center for Rural Affairs has been an integral part of Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District’s (NENEDD) business loan program for many years. Gene Rahn, a loan specialist since 1996, became a member of the district's Northeast Loan Committee in August of 1999. We have worked with the entire Center staff over the years throughout our 26-county region in northeast and north central Nebraska.

"Center for Rural Affairs staff offer a professional approach to providing technical assistance to small businesses throughout the state. They build collaborative lending partnerships with banks, development districts, local revolving loan funds, and other lenders, providing additional capital for small business owners to start or expand their businesses in Nebraska.” - Jeff Christensen, NENEDD Business Loan Specialist

We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Nebraska’s Development Districts as we continue to evolve along with our Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification. You can find out more about Nebraska’s Development Districts, including contact information, at