The REAP Women’s Business Center (WBC) turned eight in October 2008. That date also marked the 3rd year of our sustainability funding. Through ¾ of the year, REAP business specialists have provided 1,672 hours of business counseling to 380 clients. Seventy-three training opportunities were offered, reaching 1,084 people – 60 percent women. Approximately 62 start-up businesses have received assistance.
Losing businesses as owners retire remains a top concern of rural communities. It’s important to prepare a business for sale several years before the desired retirement/sale date. To help with this, we collaborated with the Burt County Economic Development Corporation in Oakland to host a Business Succession seminar featuring Frank Haverkamp of Sunbelt Advisors.
We continue to collaborate with University of Nebraska-Extension in providing Computer Basics and eCommerce classes. Grand Island was host to a Spanish Accounting Basics series. And we offered three Business Plan Basics courses – two in Northeast Nebraska and one in North Platte.
Businesses uniformly request more information on marketing. We co-sponsored six marketing sessions with local economic development organizations across the state. Dave Buchholz, of David & Associates in Hastings, shared his expertise and experience with business owners in Nebraska City, Sidney, Scottsbluff, Alliance and St. Paul. Kenzie Choquette, of Marketing Happens, presented a session in Minden.
A new Bookkeeping Basics Guide developed by Connie Harvey, with Efficiency Counts, was used for QuickBooks training. REAP Mobile Laptop Lab sessions in York, David City, Broken Bow, Minden, Bayard, Gordon, Alliance, Sidney, and Scottsbluff assisted about 30 businesses. More sessions are planned in North and West Central Nebraska and in the Panhandle.
REAP Associations/Roundtables provide critical support for each other as small business owners. The group setting offers opportunities to learn, improve skills, and network. Pricing Your Product, Networking, eBusiness, Accounting Basics, and Blending Personal and Business Goals were some of the topics pursued by REAP groups this year.
We selected three women-owned small businesses for a monetary award as part of the Women and Company® Microenterprise Boost Program sponsored by the Citigroup Foundation and Women and Company®. We gave two $3000 awards and one $5000 award at the GROW Nebraska Spring Membership meeting in Hastings. It was a great opportunity to recognize our winners as they networked with other small business owners and learned from educational sessions held the same day. This was our 5th year to be selected for the boost program, which is scheduled to end.
Our quarterly newsletter, the REAP Business Update (along with this website), provides information to our members. If you would like to be added to the Update, please send an email to Peggy Mahaney (firstname.lastname@example.org) and request to be added to the list.
REAP staff continually collaborate with other organizations and networks to provide information, training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners across Nebraska. For more information, contact: Monica Braun, REAP Women’s Business Center Director, email@example.com or 402.643.2673, or visit www.cfra.org/reap/wbc.
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