Center for Rural Affairs May and June 2022 Newsletter

Small Towns
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Editor’s Note

Every once in a while, I get to take a field trip. Or, what some of my coworkers call “Road Trip with Rhea.”

One recent adventure took me to Piñon Market owned by Veronica Piñon, in Kearney, Nebraska. This grocery store is right on Highway 30, easy to find. I walked in the door and heard “Buenos Dias” from the back. I wandered back there and was greeted by Veronica. Immediately, I felt like I was a part of her community, a part of her family.

I only planned a few minutes to take her photo, but I spent more than an hour speaking with Veronica. About her past. About her future plans. About the layout of her store. About her products, and the best use.

I told her, I don’t know what some of the labels say, since I do not understand much Spanish. She said, that’s OK. That’s what I’m here for. I want to connect the cultures.

Wow. I left with amazement. (Although, I didn’t leave without a hug from Veronica, and without a hug and a thank you from her mom who was making fresh burritos behind the counter.)

This is why we do the work that we do. To help small businesses like this, who in turn are making a difference in their communities, who are bridging cultures, and who are powerhouse women. This is why I work for the Center, and this is why I support the Center with a monthly donation.

To catch Veronica’s story, she is on the cover of our most recent Small Business News. Shoot me an email or give me a call (402.687.2100 ext. 1025) if you miss it and would like me to send it to you.

Inside this issue

Free Day Popcorn boosts business with Value-Added Producer Grant - Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers expand their businesses through value-added products and services.

Loans provide more than financial support for homeowner - When Alexandra Henry moved to Nebraska from her home state of Colorado, she was disappointed in the quality of rental properties available, and she felt the pet policies most rentals came with added an unnecessary expense.

CSP inspires Iowa farmer to plan for soil health, future profitability - For Bruce Willems of Correctionville, Iowa, what started as a plan to address erosion on his farm is now a decade-long commitment to the overall health of his operation. He’s doing it with help from the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Center surveys South Dakotans on broadband access - Reliable internet has become a necessity. “People living in rural areas aren’t using the internet to play video games. This is our life,” said Doug Riediger.

Producers are bringing the farm to school - Farm to School continues to grow in Nebraska. In 2021, the state Legislature approved the Adopt the Farm-to-School Program Act to reserve state funding to make new and existing farm to school projects a priority for the Nebraska Department of Education. These new programs include assisting nutrition directors with local food procurement and enha-ncing the agriculture education of students.

Staff spotlight: Nina brings organizational knowledge to northeast Nebraska - Until almost a decade ago, Nina Lanuza had always lived in big cities. Then, she moved to Schuyler, Nebraska, and hasn’t looked back since.

From the desk of the executive director: building assets through business lending - A mechanic and used car dealer just bought their business building thanks to a loan from the Center for Rural Affairs.

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