LYONS, NEBRASKA – A familiar program with a revised name is still offering important assistance to rural Nebraska businesses and extending services to homeowners.
The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) was established in 1990 as a program of the Center for Rural Affairs, providing loans, training, and business planning assistance to businesses with up to 10 employees.
REAP, familiar across Nebraska for assisting small businesses, is now simply referred to as the Center for Rural Affairs. The organization remains based in Lyons, Nebraska.
“We are not making any changes to our mission, staff, or operations,” said Kim Preston, director of Lending Services at the Center. “We are here for whatever small businesses in Nebraska need, whether that’s funding, help to navigate the pandemic, assistance in marketing, or otherwise.”
In its history, the Center has extended more than $23 million to assist Nebraska small businesses. That number has been on the rise in recent years thanks to the establishment of a nonprofit subsidiary of the Center. The U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) can make larger loans to small businesses, ultimately having a greater impact on the businesses and communities in rural Nebraska.
“In the beginning, we were lending only small amounts to businesses,” Preston said. “Now, we have the ability to lend from $1,000 to $250,000. We also expanded our business development services to meet demand.”
In addition to small business loans, earlier in 2021, the Center began offering homeownership and home improvement loans in rural Nebraska. The loans between $5,000 and $100,000 can be used to assist in the purchase of a home, owner-occupied rehabilitation or renovation, or emergency repair to a property.
“This name change is to streamline our brand identities,” Preston said. “Now all services are under the Center for Rural Affairs name.”
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