Nebraska rural, small businesses get a boost from Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program

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Brian Depew, Center for Rural Affairs executive director,, 402.687.2100 ext. 1015; Rhea Landholm, Center for Rural Affairs brand marketing and communications manager,, 402.687.2100 ext 1025; or Julie Fogerson, Wells Fargo communications advisor, 208.570.3037

LYONS, NEBRASKA – The Rural Investment Corporation, a subsidiary of the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb., recently was awarded a $200,000 grant from Wells Fargo.

The organization was among 19 Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) awarded $13 million in the latest round of the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business®: Diverse Community Capital program. The CDFIs, which are nonprofit financial institutions, use the funds to deliver affordable financial products to diverse small business owners who do not typically have access to conventional funding.

“We give credit to the Diverse Community Capital program for being robustly rural with funding,” said Brian Depew, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs. “With support from Wells Fargo, in 2019, the Center for Rural Affairs is happy to offer small business services across all of rural Nebraska, from South Sioux City to Scottsbluff to Nebraska City and all points in between.”

With the funds from Wells Fargo, the Center for Rural Affairs opened a new office in Scottsbluff, Neb., to extend officially bilingual Latino small business services to all parts of rural Nebraska.

“Rural small businesses and their diverse owners face different challenges than their urban counterparts,” said Kirk Kellner, Wells Fargo region bank president. “Wells Fargo wants to be part of a solution that helps remove obstacles for small business owners. By supporting the Center for Rural Affairs, we can provide greater access to the resources needed to start or grow a business and help make all of our Nebraska communities stronger."

One business owner assisted by the Rural Investment Corporation is Rosa Maria Brooks, who offers therapeutic massage, nutrition services, spiritual counseling and more, in Grand Island, Neb. Through grant awards, such as the one from Wells Fargo, the Center for Rural Affairs can provide loans and business counseling to Brooks.

“I was scared because of my English, because my first language is Spanish, but my experience with the Center has been wonderful,” Brooks said. “I was given directions on how to open a business in the U.S., as well as how to build a client base.”

The Rural Investment Corporation was certified as a CDFI in 2013, providing small business loans, and development services to rural Nebraska businesses. Services are offered in both English and Spanish, with approximately 40 percent of loans servicing the Latino community.

“Due to the overwhelming need for services in rural Nebraska, we looked for better ways to build the scale and efficiency of our small business lending program,” Depew said.

Small business loans up to $150,000 are available through the Rural Investment Corporation to small businesses in rural Nebraska. Visit for more information.