February  2004      Vol. 13, No. 2  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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REAP Lends $2 Million to Nebraska Small Businesses
Loans from REAP surged in the last year, totaling over a million dollars and bringing total program lending to $2 million.

BY JEFF REYNOLDS, RURAL ENTERPRISE ASSISTANCE PROJECT (REAP) PROGRAM DIRECTOR

The Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP), a program of the Center for Rural Affairs, has loaned over $2 million to startup and existing small businesses in rural Nebraska since its inception in 1990.

REAP is Nebraska’s largest microenterprise program and operates on a statewide, rural basis through regionally based Business Specialists. REAP provides lending, training, networking, and technical assistance opportunities for startup and existing microenterprises (businesses with 5 or fewer
employees).

This latest milestone is important both for what was attained and when it was attained, according to REAP program director Jeff Reynolds.

“It wasn’t until 2002 that REAP reached that first $1 million in direct loans, and now we are already surpassing the $2 million mark,” said Reynolds. “That says a lot about the need for small business development in rural Nebraska and the success of our program.”

REAP provides “peer group” loans up to $10,000 through locally formed associations of small business people in a “step-up” process, along with individual loans up to $25,000 through the REAP Direct loan program. The Direct loan program was added in 1999.

REAP also provides “Quick Grow” loans up to $5,000 in collaboration with the GROW Nebraska program. The Quick Grow loan program was added in 2002. Since 1990, REAP has placed 273 peer group loans totaling $463,423 (total includes Quick Grow loans).

Since 1999, REAP has placed 111 direct loans totaling $1,560,508. REAP has leveraged an additional $4,351,820 in loans from traditional sources since 1997 through its business planning and loan packaging services.

Gene and Chris Trauernicht, owners of Gene’s Repair in Hallam, used the REAP program for their business. “Many rural Nebraska small businesses like ours are made up of hardworking, honest Nebraskans who support their family and communities heartily,” said Gene. “The educational and lending opportunities REAP offers not only keep our rural business in fine working fashion, they keep rural Nebraska alive and well.”

In rural Nebraska the primary employment source is self-employment and the dominant type is microenterprise. REAP provides key business development services to entrepreneurs. Funding from the Nebraska Microenterprise Development Act, Community Development Block Grants, Small Business Administration, United States Department of Agriculture and other sources make the services possible.

REAP collaborates with many other individuals and organizations and is a member of the Nebraska Enterprise Opportunity Network (NEON). NEON is the trade association in Nebraska for microenterprise programs and offers policy and training for microenterprise programs and practitioners. A complete list of microenterprise service providers in Nebraska can be found at http://neon.neded.org.

REAP was selected by the Small Business Administration to create a rural women's business center, the first such program in Nebraska. The REAP WBC service center, which began on July 1, 2001, is one without “walls.” REAP uses its existing infrastructure with business specialists located throughout the state to deliver the WBC services.

Since beginning in 1990, REAP has continued steady growth. REAP has shown that it is possible to build the scale of a successful program to serve all the rural areas of a state while securing long-term state support.

Let us know how REAP is working for you and continue to let us know about changes you would like to see. We will continue to adjust the program to meet your needs. Bottom line is that REAP is committed to strengthening rural communities through small, self-employed business development. We remain steadfast and committed to this mission.


 Contact: Jeff Reynolds, REAP Program Director, 402.656.3091 or jeffr@alltel.net .
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