May  2004      Vol. 13, No. 5  REAP HOME PAGE  A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs    
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REAP Microbusinesses Eligible for Legal Services
Nebraska Legal Services and REAP are pairing to bring free legal services to rural business owners to help build rural assets.

A new collaboration between REAP and Nebraska Legal Services will bring legal services to microenterprise owners in Nebraska’s rural communities. This month Nebraska Legal Services launches the “Micro-Small Business Assistance Project.” Through this project, microenterprise operators in rural communities will have access to assistance with their legal questions.

Microenterprise has repeatedly been shown to be an effective and promising strategy for promoting economic development in rural communities. Micro businesses in rural communities provide a real opportunity for economic gains for families and also create the backbone for broader community and economic development.

By working with microbusiness operators, Nebraska Legal Services hopes to promote more equitable economic development strategies that help families build assets and gain economic self-sufficiency.
Equitable development is the creation and maintenance of stable and economically diverse communities that enhance opportunities for families to become homeowners, business owners, and active community participants. The Micro-Small Business Assistance Project will include the following initiatives to meet this goal.

Providing legal services to microenterprise operators
Through the project, microbusiness operators in rural communities will have access to training sessions and individual consultations with a business lawyer. Training sessions will be provided free of charge, and individual consultations are also available free of charge to qualifying business owners.

Training sessions will be held in central locations across Nebraska and will be open to any small business operator who is interested in attending. Topics will include:

  • How to select the best corporate structure for your business
  • Legal issues related to financing
  • Real estate law
  • Employment issues affecting microbusiness

Training sessions will run for approximately one hour, including question and answer periods.

The first training is scheduled for the week of May 31, 2004 and will be held in McCook. During this session microenterprise operators can learn how to choose the right business structure for their business, how to identify employment law issues that affect their business, and they will get a general overview of tax issues facing microbusiness operators and the self-employed.

In addition to public training opportunities, individual microbusiness owners will be able to meet with an attorney to discuss specific legal questions concerning their business. For example, a business operator may receive assistance with real estate, contract, or regulatory questions facing their business through the project.

Legal assistance will be provided free of charge to microbusiness owners who satisfy the following criteria:

  • They are working with REAP or its affiliates.
  • The business is local and operated within Nebraska.
  • The business provides, or will provide, the household’s primary source of income. 

Providing research & analysis
Providing microbusiness owners the tools they need to address their legal questions is the primary goal of the Micro-Small Business Assistance Project. To serve more rural businesses, a series of research guides will be developed and published over the next year.

These guides will provide operators with an overview of the law on relevant topics and the analysis of how to develop a business plan that proactively manages legal concerns. You may look for these guides on the Nebraska Legal Services website, .

To learn more about the project or to register for the McCook training session, contact Steve Virgil, Attorney, Nebraska Legal Services, 500 South 18th Street, Omaha, NE 68104 or call 402.348.1069 extension 203.
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