10 things I have learned in my 10 years with the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project

Dena Beck, senior project leader and south central loan specialist with the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), a program of the Center for Rural Affairs, was honored for 10 years of employment in November.

  1. Small business is BIG business in rural areas (90 percent of the businesses have 10 and fewer full-time employees).
  2. Staff within REAP and its partner Rural Investment Corporation, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, are not afraid to take a good, hard look at what they are doing and evaluate if it is indeed what our market needs (see the 2016 Small Business Needs Assessment report).
  3. When I interviewed in fall 2006 in at the Center for Rural Affairs’ home office in Lyons, Neb., I thought, “This is the perfect job for me.” I was right.
  4. Not everyone is a financial analyst, marketing guru or bookkeeping rock star. That’s OK - there are folks out there to help with your weaknesses. I know because I have called on such people.
  5. Not all businesses need a loan. That is why technical assistance (business coaching) and training through our Women’s Business Center and Latino Business Center are so important.
  6. I am not here to squelch anyone’s dream, no matter how far out I may think it is.
  7. Working with smart, committed, mission-driven people makes my job even more fulfilling.
  8. People need different help at different times and in different ways.
  9. I have an affinity for mission-driven work.
  10. I get to wake up every morning and have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.