$Six Million Dollar Milestone Reached

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Jeff Reynolds, jeffr@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 656-3091 Eugene Rahn, gener@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 925-2920 or - Elisha Smith, elishas@cfra.org, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext.1007
Lyons, Nebraska - Eugene Rahn, Senior Business Specialist for the Center for Rural Affairs' Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), recently reached a milestone of loaning and leveraging over six million dollars to rural Nebraska startup and existing small businesses.
"Gene has a passion for working with rural small businesses and helping them succeed and has made a major impact as evidenced by reaching this milestone," said Jeff Reynolds REAP Program Director.  

Rahn joined the REAP program in November 1996 and covers the north central area of Nebraska. Since that time, he has been responsible for placing 142 loans totaling over $1.5 M while also leveraging 86 loans totaling over $4.6 M due to his assistance for a total of over $6 M in loans and leverage. Rahn has also been responsible for countless hours of business counseling and facilitation of many small business trainings in his region. He has worked with close to 600 startup and existing entrepreneurs and helped train close to 2,000 entrepreneurs.
"We applaud Eugene for achieving such a milestone. The commitment and support that he has demonstrated time and again directly correlates with the success rate of entrepreneurs and small business owners here in rural Nebraska," said Richard Baier, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. "Successful small businesses are an essential component of our state's overall economic development effort.  We are pleased to have provided resources to support the good work that Eugene has done in his role with REAP.  We look forward to his continued success in the future."
One example of a small business recently assisted by Gene is Sandhill Glass & Garage Doors in Ord, Nebraska, owned by Bradley and Gina Babb (picture of Babbs and Gene http://www.cfra.org/files/pictures/generahn.jpg).  "In 1998, we were asked by our step-father if we would consider moving to Nebraska, work for his glass and garage door business, and learn to take it over when he decided to retire," stated the Babb.  "We decided to take the opportunity, and began working in the spring of 1998."  In 2007, the Babbs' step-father died unexpectedly, without any plan in place for a business transition. The Babbs decided to purchase the business assets and re-open it as their own.

"Without the help of Eugene Rahn and the support of REAP, we would not have been able to keep the family business alive and complete our long term goals. Eugene was extremely supportive and enjoyable to work with. Eugene was referred to us by our local Chamber of Commerce. They called him a "wizard" that helped small businesses in rural Nebraska. He is beyond a doubt a Wizard."

That "wizard" definitely enjoys what he does. Gene Rahn calls entrepreneurs and small business people some of the greatest indiviuals to work with. "Assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners has proven interesting and rewarding," said Rahn, REAP Senior Business Specialist.  "It has been an honor and privilege assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners that had an idea, then a dream and then the reality of starting or expanding their own business."

REAP is Nebraska's largest microenterprise program and operates on a statewide, rural basis through regionally based Business Specialists. REAP provides lending, training, networking, and technical assistance/counseling opportunities for startup and existing small microenterprises (businesses with 5 or fewer employees). REAP operates Nebraska's only Women's Business Center (WBC) and also operates the REAP Hispanic Business Center (HBC).
"The milestone that Eugene Rahn has reached is an excellent example of the commitment of REAP staff in assisting startup and existing small businesses in rural Nebraska. This commitment coupled with dedicated funding sources and partners is a recipe for total success," said Jeff Reynolds, REAP Program Director. "This milestone says a lot about the need for and success of our program."

Over 85% of the businesses in Nebraska are microenterprises (5 or fewer in size). That is why the Center for Rural Affairs believes it is so vital to provide access to lending and technical assistance.

REAP collaborates with many other individuals and organizations and also participates with the Nebraska Enterprise Fund (NEF). NEF is a leading provider of financial resources for community-based organizations that offer financial and technical assistance to Nebraska's small and micro businesses. A complete listing of microenterprise service providers in Nebraska can be found at http://www.nebbiz.org/gsearch.php.

Rose Jaspersen, Executive Director of the Nebraska Enterprise Fund said, "Microenterprise and small business development generates income, builds assets and supports local economies by providing a proven pathway to business ownership for low and moderate income entrepreneurs.  They are the base of our economy.  Eugene Rahn's accomplishments are outstanding for an individual working in this field.  He is not only making a difference for businesses, but also for communities in North Central Nebraska."

For a picture of Eugene Rahn visit: http://www.cfra.org/about/staff/eugene-rahn

Funding to make the work of REAP possible comes from many sources and includes: the Community Development Block Grant program through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Enterprise Fund through the Nebraska Microenterprise Development Act, Small Business Administration Microloan & Women's Business Center Programs, the United States Department of Agriculture, various foundations and gracious donors.

A program of the Center for Rural Affairs, REAP is committed to strengthening rural communities through small, self-employed business development. To learn more about the REAP program, visit the REAP Web site at: www.cfra.org/reap.

The REAP WBC and Microloan program are funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S Small Business Administration.

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