November  2003      Vol. 12, No. 10  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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Congressman Osborne’s Staff Learns about REAP Work

On October 22, REAP Northeast Business Specialist Karen Linnenbrink spent several hours sharing work she had been doing with Hispanic-owned small businesses in Northeast Nebraska with four members of Nebraska Congressman Tom Osborne’s staff.

Participants from the Congressman’s office included (pictured left to right) Bruce Rieker, Chief of Staff; E. Scot Blehm, Rural Initiatives Director; Lori Ferguson, Rural Economic Development Coordinator. Abril Garcia, General Manager of the Mundo Latino newspaper is pictured in the middle, flanked by John Hanson, District Director for Congressman Osborne; and Brent Plugge, Extension Educator for the University of Nebraska Sandhills Unit, who participated as well. REAP Northeast Business Specialist Karen Linnenbrink is pictured at the far right of the photo.

Their interest stemmed from a Diversity Mobile workshop Karen did for the Nebraska Rural Institute in September. Lori Ferguson attended that tour and was impressed by the work REAP has done for the Hispanic-owned small businesses in the South Sioux and Jackson area. From that, she brought her co-workers to see first-hand the work REAP is doing.

The group visited LA Fashions II, owned and operated by Sonia and Jose Villapando; Mundo Latino newspaper, owned and operated by Abril Garcia; both businesses located in South Sioux. After that, they traveled to Jackson, Nebraska where Gomez Pallets operates, owned by Antonio (Tony) Gomez.

Each owner explained their business, how they got started, their future goals, and how the REAP program has helped them. Of the many questions asked by the staff members to each of the business owners, one stands out for us.

Bruce Rieker asked Tony Gomez, “Tony, what other programs can we bring in to help the small businesses?” Tony’s response was,

“We do not need any more programs. This girl (Karen) has everything we need; she has had training classes and follows-up with the owners at least on a monthly basis. She does a very good job, and if she doesn’t have the answer she knows where to refer you or finds the answer and gets back to you. We do not need any other programs, we just need to support and market REAP. REAP is a very good program.”

REAP was recently awarded a $50,000 grant to increase its work for rural Hispanic entrepreneurs through creation of a rural Hispanic Business Center.

 Contact: Karen Linnenbrink,
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