REAP Businesses Help Spur Energy, Economics in Rural Areas

REAP Reaches $9 Million in Historical Lending! The Center for Rural Affairs REAP Program reached a major milestone in 2013 by going over the $9 million dollar mark in total loans placed. REAP began in 1990 and didn’t reach the $1 million mark until 2002.

“That says a lot about the need for and success of our program. These small loans are important to Nebraska businesses and its economy. REAP loans help people start or expand small businesses across rural Nebraska. Many times rural areas lack quality employment. Starting a small business is the best and sometimes only option for making a living. Over 85 percent of the businesses in Nebraska are microenterprise in size (10 or fewer employees),” said Jeff Reynolds, REAP program director.

The stories below give a taste of how REAP loan funds and services help to fuel the creativity, drive, and dedication of Nebraska’s entrepreneurs. It is our privilege to serve them.

Ana Gonzalez, owner of Pasteleria Crystal, LLC, in Grand Island recently discovered a customer with connections. Imelda Catalan, new REAP Hispanic Business Specialist, had ordered Ana’s special cakes for Catalan family celebrations.

Several years ago Ana used help from Creighton University School of Law and REAP to organize her business. Now with the REAP connection rekindled, she has received technical assistance, a micro loan, and business training. Ana is a good example of how REAP helps small business develop and grow.

Linda’s Preschool & Discovery Center, in Ord began in 2003. Business founders Linda and Paul Horner bought an older home and brought it up to code for a licensed daycare. Last summer the Horners found a location that would allow a larger daycare able to serve more children.

Loans were obtained from their bank and the Ord Revolving Loan Fund to purchase and remodel the building. When it turned out a new electrical service was required along with unplanned plumbing improvements, funds to complete the project were short. REAP was able to provide assistance to finalize everything, and they moved into the new facility this spring.

Linda has a bachelor’s degree in education with 20+ years working in preschools, child centers, and elementary schools. She loves working with young children. Paul helps with maintenance and other chores. But the biggest winners are the parents who know their children are in good hands.