Lending, technical assistance key for Nebraska's small rural businesses

As any first-time business owner will tell you, getting started isn’t easy. Take Lane and Melanie Seifert of ABC Blinds & Shades in Scottsbluff. As they transitioned into full-time ownership of their custom window coverings business, the couple faced big-time hurdles when it came to obtaining financing and learning the skills of managing and marketing for success.

To purchase their business, the couple obtained a loan from the Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, or REAP. REAP also offered the Seiferts counseling and training. The couple received coaching on how to use QuickBooks, upgrade their billing system, and other money-management and cost-saving assistance.

This type of hands-on small business assistance is made possible by the Business Innovation Act’s Microenterprise Technical Assistance and Lending programs. Through these programs, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development works closely with organizations like REAP to help business owners get off to a good start. The program has been a resounding success.

That’s why the Appropriations Committee has prioritized Legislative Bill (LB) 334. This bill would transfer $4 million saved by eliminating the Angel Investment Tax Credit Act into the Business Innovation Act. With this additional funding, more business owners like the Seiferts will receive the support they need to succeed.

Business owners participating in technical assistance and training have higher rates of business survival, revenue growth, and employment growth than those who do not. LB 334 would help make this training available to more businesses than ever before. We encourage lawmakers to advance this important piece of legislation.

Feature photo: As Lane and Melanie Seifert, of ABC Blinds & Shades in Scottsbluff, transitioned into full-time ownership of their custom window coverings business, the couple faced big-time hurdles when it came to obtaining financing and learning the skills of managing and marketing for success.