Mike Burge recognized for supporting Entrepreneurs - Valentine Cherry County Economic Development Director Receives REAP Friend of the Year Award

Release Date: 



Gene Rahn, gener@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 925-2920
or Elisha Smith,elishas@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext. 1007

Lyons, NE -  The Center for Rural Affairs has awarded Mike Burge of Valentine, NE, the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Friend of the Year award. Burge, Development Director of Valentine/Cherry County Economic Development, was recognized for his long standing commitment to the REAP program at a special awards banquet February 5 held at the Metro Community College's Institute for Culinary Arts in Omaha, NE.

This award is given annually to an individual, organization or institution that provides invaluable service to entrepreneurs by assisting the Center for Rural Affairs’ REAP staff in offering technical assistance, business training, loans and networking across rural Nebraska.
"I am proud to receive this award from the Center for Rural Affairs and the REAP project,” said Michael Burge. “I feel that Gene Rahn and the others associated with REAP, really understand what Economic Development in rural Nebraska is all about and they are a valuable resource in parts of the state where there are not always unlimited resources available.  REAP is an important part of our Economic Development in Valentine and Cherry County. Thank you for your help and this special award."
In 2005 an economic development program was developed to assist businesses in Valentine and Cherry County. A Director position became available in 2006. A lifelong resident of Cherry County, Burge knew the needs of the area. He wanted Valentine and Cherry County to remain a vibrant community serving the trade region of north central Nebraska and south central South Dakota.  Mike was selected as Executive director and remains in the position 7 years later.
“Mike has been a strong friend for REAP,” said Gene Rahn, REAP Loan Specialist with the Center for Rural Affairs. “Businesses are referred for technical assistance, loans and trainings.  Mike is always ready to assist in promoting and scheduling trainings.  During the past 7 years the REAP Basic Business Plan training has been offered, several Quick Books classes, marketing trainings and succession planning and others have been implemented and presented with Mike’s assistance and direction.”
According to Rahn, Mike was a long term employee and part owner of the radio station in Valentine.  Mike’s work with local business owners and government agencies provided a strong insight to the needs and wants of Valentine and Cherry County.  These insights were developed providing assistance in advertising and marketing for business owners.  Additional knowledge was gained reporting on governmental activities and meetings.
Mikes association with the radio station provides the opportunity to keep in touch with business owners in Valentine and Cherry County.  Mike still broadcasts and is the play by play announcer for Valentine High School athletic events at home and on the road.
“Mike has been instrumental in getting the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA) convention to Valentine twice in the past and is always looking at ways to promote and assist business owners in Valentine and Cherry County,” commented Rahn. “REAP is one of the tools Mike uses when needed.  He is always ready to assist with marketing and promoting REAP activities, trainings and referring for other REAP services.  These activities and assistance show Mike is a true friend of the REAP program.”
For a picture of the Mike Burge accepting his award, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cfra/sets/72157650716454872/
(Pictures courtesy of the Center for Rural Affairs)