REAP Mission and History

The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) of the Center for Rural Affairs is committed to strengthening rural communities through small, self-employed business development.

REAP was started by the Center for Rural Affairs in 1990 to meet the needs of the self-employed in the rural Midwest. A Center study in the late 1980s showed a high rate of self-employment in rural areas, but no economic development strategies to help this sector.

The REAP Women’s Business Center (WBC), the first such program in Nebraska, continues to excel in reaching rural women entrepreneurs. We also continue to provide key business development services to rural Latino entrepreneurs. REAP uses business specialists located throughout the state to deliver our services in both English and Spanish.

REAP provides critical-core programming that is designed to fill gaps that exist for rural startup and existing small businesses. Gaps filled include loans, business counseling, training and networking opportunities. REAP is able to help in the fulfillment of the Center for Rural Affairs values of progress, opportunity, ownership and control and fairness through action oriented programming and a dedicated staff, board and organization.


1990 - Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) is started by the Center for Rural Affairs with a Peer Group Model and two staff. Gene Severens was the first REAP director.

1990 - First REAP Peer Group formed at Cedar Rapids.

1990 - REAP started with grants from the Ford and Mott foundations.

1992 - Rose Jaspersen joins REAP in 1990, and becomes second REAP director in 1992.

1992 - REAP applies to be a Small Business Association Microloan Intermediary and is one of 35 programs chosen to participate in the pilot program.

1994 - REAP receives first CDBG grant. The grant is used to start a REAP region in southeast Nebraska with the hiring of Jeff Reynolds. Each region added from this point forward was started with CDBG grants.

1995 - First Entrepreneurs of the Future Camp held at UNL.

1996 - Eugene Rahn joins REAP staff.

1998 - Kendall Scheer becomes the third REAP director.

1998 - Began pilot of REAP Direct Lending Program. The Maximum Direct Loan was $15,000.

1998 - REAP reaches $300,000 in total lending.

1999 - Direct Loan Program made a permanent part of the program, with a Maximum Loan of $25,000.

2000 - Jeff Reynolds becomes the fourth REAP director.

2001 - SBA Women's Business Center five-year funding proposal approved. REAP WBC begins. Glennis McClure is the first REAP WBC director.

2002 - REAP Individual Program officially launched. Now “Dual Delivery” system.

2002 - REAP reaches $1 million in total lending.

2003 - Developed and launched REAP website.

2004 - Launched online REAP member directory.

2004 - RBEG funding proposal approved. REAP Hispanic Business Center pilot work begins.

2004 - REAP reaches $2 million in total lending.

2004 - Glennis McClure becomes co-director of REAP.

2005 - REAP Roundtable format introduced.

2005 - REAP Online Lending System developed.

2005 - 274th REAP Peer loan placed at Falls City. Could possibly have been the last peer loan.

2006 - REAP maximum lending limit raised to $35,000.

2006 - Monica Braun becomes second REAP Women's Business Center director.

2006 - REAP reaches $3 million in total lending.

2007 - Further expansion of Hispanic Business Center work with promotion of Adriana Dungan to Hispanic Business Center Director (first Hispanic Business Center director) and planned hiring of Hispanic loan specialist in western Nebraska.

2007 - REAP had nine staff with close to $1 million budget.

2008 - REAP reaches $4 million in total lending.

2008 - REAP conducts first statewide Small Business Needs Assessment. Is completed every two years.

2009 - Eugene Rahn reaches $6 million lending/leverage plateau.

2009 - REAP reaches $5 million in total lending.

2010 - Juan Sandoval becomes the second REAP Hispanic Business Center director.

2010 - REAP Maximum lending limit raised to $50,000.

2011 - REAP reaches $7 million in total lending.

2011 - Rural Investment Corporation (RIC) structure is reinstated and in process to becoming a certified community development financial institute.

2011 - Community development financial institute certification and technical assistance application completed and submitted.

2012 - REAP reaches $8 million in total lending.

2012 - Informal structure known as the “Nebraska Small Business Collaborative” is created.

2013 - REAP reaches $9 million in total lending.

2013 - Rural Investment Corporation is officially certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

2014 - REAP reaches $10 million in total lending.

2015 - REAP reaches $11 million in total lending.

2015 - The Hispanic Business Center is renamed Latino Business Center.

2015 - Peggy Mahaney, REAP administrative assistant, retires and is replaced by Kim Preston.

2015 – REAP celebrates the 25th anniversary of the program.

2016 – REAP reaches $13 million in total lending.

2016 – Rural Investment Corporation/REAP develops and implements the New American Loan Fund.

2016 - The first Small Business Loan over $50,000 is placed through the newly created Small Business Loan Program that provides loans up to $150,000.

2017 - Jeff Reynolds passes away in April. Brian Depew, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, is named interim REAP director. Gene Rahn is named interim REAP staff manager.

2017 - REAP and Rural Investment Corporation reach $15 million in total lending.

2018 - Kim Preston is named Interim Women's Business Center Director.

2019 - Kim Preston is named REAP Program Manager. Anna Pratt hired as Women's Business Center Director. First ever small business training in Somalian is held.

2019 - Plans are in the works to further enhance the REAP model and further position the program to reach the tremendous need that exists for entrepreneurial development.

2020 - Kim Preston is named REAP Director. Jessica Campos is hired as Women's Business Center Director. 

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