Staff spotlight: Raúl passes on knowledge to Nebraska business owners

After years of acquiring business knowledge, Raúl Arcos Hawkins now has the opportunity to share everything he’s learned with aspiring entrepreneurs throughout Nebraska.

Recently hired as a Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) business development specialist at the Center for Rural Affairs, Raúl is no stranger to the organization. Initially hired as a contractor for REAP, Raúl spent more than a year assisting business owners before taking on his new role.

“As a contractor, I helped several food service businesses with technical assistance, so this position is perfect for me,” he said. “Also, I've been acquainted with the work the Center does through my previous employers, and I feel fortunate that I was able to partner with REAP in the past.”

With his knowledge and experience, Raúl comes into his new role ready to educate and train entrepreneurs, as well as provide technical assistance. He also supports the work of loan specialists.

“My background is in the food service industry, and 10 of the 17 years in that business were in management,” said Raúl. “I also have a consulting business, which I offer a variety of services to mostly food service business. During my time at Centro Hispano, I served as program coordinator, focusing on education and business development.”

Raúl covers nine communities throughout Nebraska, and focuses on assisting Latino entrepreneurs. The opportunity to help others is one of his favorite aspects of this position.

“Connecting with entrepreneurs and having the ability to share some of the knowledge I’ve gained makes me so excited to do this work,” he said. “I love to teach and mentor, to provide the same opportunities a mentor once provided me, to learn how to run a business successfully.”

Helping rural entrepreneurs achieve their business potential is more than a career, it hits close to home for Raúl.

“I grew up in a rural Nebraska, and I see the immense value and benefits of small town living,” he said. “I enjoy the atmosphere of peace and quiet, knowing who your neighbors are, and taking time to do things that you might take for granted in a metropolitan city. Working at the Center for Rural Affairs makes that all possible.”

When Raúl isn’t lending a helping hand to business owners, he spends his time cooking and baking for loved ones and his coworkers. He also volunteers and enjoys quiet time at home reading with his spouse and their three cats.

Raúl can be reached at the Center’s Grand Island office at 3180 W Hwy 34, Room 200, 308.833.0260, or raulah@cfra.org.