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
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.