Hispanic Business Center: Expanded REAP Services

Phase four of the REAP Hispanic Business Center (HBC) officially started July 1, 2008. The Hispanic Business Center’s goal is to create new economic opportunity, higher incomes, asset growth, and improved skills for rural Hispanic entrepreneurs. Services are available to Hispanic entrepreneurs across all of rural Nebraska, wherever they may reside.

Funding for Hispanic Business Center services was provided by the H.G. Buffet Foundation, the Nebraska Enterprise Fund through the Nebraska Microenterprise Development Act, the Small Business Administration Microloan Program, and from the Community Development Block Grant program through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

We anticipated impacting 200 Hispanic startup and existing entrepreneurs this year. We far surpassed our projection, providing services to 370 Hispanic entrepreneurs through technical assistance and trainings, mainly in Northeast and Southwest/Central Nebraska. Three Hispanic entrepreneurs obtained a REAP loan and/or a leveraged loan.

Partnerships between REAP and the local community helped to form a new REAP Roundtable in Lexington, with two more pending in West Point and Wakefield. Roundtables are already in place at Madison, Columbus, Schuyler and South Sioux City. Groups meet monthly for networking, discussion topics and education.

During the past year, Hispanic Roundtable members completed trainings in Excel, Accounting Basics, Tax Literacy, Computer Basics and E-Commerce. Members also partook of Tips on Business Decision Making, Advantages of Networking, Pricing Your Products, Marketing Strategies, and Blending Business and Personals Goals.

REAP Hispanic Business Specialists helped to plan and promote an Hispanic Track at the Center for Rural Affairs’ small business event, MarktPlace, held in North Platte last February. Four sessions were offered completely in Spanish. Topics included How to Develop a Marketing Plan, Pricing your Products, Counting the Cost of Starting Your Business, and Marketing Your Products on the Web. A total of 36 Hispanics attended the sessions.

The REAP Hispanic Business Center will continue researching, developing and building strategic partners to provide comprehensive New American services in all of rural Nebraska. For more information, contact Adriana Dungan, REAP Hispanic Business Center Director, adrianad@cfra.org or 402.494.1013, or visit www.cfra.org/reap/hbc.