Starting a business and maintaining its success requires ongoing training. We recognized a need for access to these resources in rural areas and particularly among women.
To help meet this need, Jeff Reynolds and Glennis McClure submitted a grant proposal in 2001 to the Office of Women's Business Ownership (OWBO) under the Small Business Administration (SBA). The grant was funded and so began the REAP Women's Business Center (WBC). It became the training arm of the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) of the Center for Rural Affairs.
Glennis McClure was the first director, serving until 2006. Glennis took note of business owners' busy schedules and pushed to develop trainings that accommodated their needs. Under her leadership, we established a relationship to offer the University of Nebraska EDGE program as a 5-week session rather than the typical 15 weeks. Topics spanned business transitioning plans to marketing. Partnerships with local economic development organizations helped to co-sponsor trainings and REAP Associations.
Monica Braun assumed the role of WBC director upon Glennis' departure in 2006. Business trainings continued and were pushed forward technologically. We purchased laptops and created mobile labs to offer individualized sessions and technology-specific training on QuickBooks, basic computer skills, Microsoft Office, and e-commerce.
We've continued our rich history of partnerships with organizations like GROW Nebraska, University of Nebraska Extension, various local Economic Development organizations, and the Omaha District SBA office. These allow us to host a wide array of training sessions for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The REAP WBC and the District SBA office have held a Women Entrepreneurs Conference the past 3 years and have had great response. It is an opportunity to learn from experts, women entrepreneurs, and network with others. It’s a part of our continued effort at the Center for Rural Affairs to strengthen and empower rural communities.
The REAP WBC has gone through several renewal phases and continues to assist small business owners be successful. If you have questions, contact Monica Braun, REAP Women's Business Center director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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