September 2004  Issue No. 22                    REAP HOME PAGE         A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs

Rural Enterprise Reporter

REAP Activities: staff immersed in networking, training, tracking, and learning

REAP staff attended the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) national conference in Philadelphia, PA.

REAP Business Specialist Jerry Terwilliger has been selected to serve on the loan review committee for the Panhandle Area Development District (PADD). Jerry also helped set up the loan criteria for this new loan fund in the Panhandle area of Nebraska.

REAP staff are participating with the Nebraska Microenterprise Partnership Fund (NMPF) and the Nebraska Enterprise Opportunity Network (NEON) and others to create a system for linking micro and small businesses to services available from programs across Nebraska. The goal of the Microenterprise Information Referral System (MIRS) is to link micro businesses with available services, including those they might not know exist.

REAP Northeast Business Specialist Karen Linnenbrink gave a tour of Hispanic-owned businesses in Northeast Nebraska with members of Congressman Tom Osborne’s staff.
REAP conducted its Business Plan Basics trainings in Scottsbluff and South Sioux City in the Spring of 2004 targeted to the Hispanic business community.

REAP took part in developing and conducting a survey for minority-owned businesses in South Sioux City. A collaborative effort of many organizations, the focus was to identify key training issues and to better understand where business owners go for assistance and what/who are their resource providers. The Basic Business Plan training mentioned above was a result of this survey, and other trainings will be conducted in the near future.

REAP staff were heavily involved with the Nebraska Rural Institute held on September 16-18, 2003 at South Sioux City. The Rural Institute brings together staff from the Partnership for Rural Nebraska and rural community development practitioners for learning, sharing, energizing, and networking.

REAP Northeast Business Specialist Karen Linnenbrink was involved in planning and implementing the Nebraska Rural Institute. Karen was also involved with a mobile workshop that focused on local minority-owned businesses in South Sioux City. REAP WBC Director Glennis McClure, REAP Senior Business Specialist Gene Rahn, and REAP Southeast Business Specialist Monica Braun all gave presentations at the Institute.

REAP recently purchased new loan software called the “Exceptional Assistant.” This upgrade will allow for improved tracking and accounting of our growing loan portfolio and will provide for building a client outcomes data tracking program.

REAP Program Director Jeff Reynolds was elected for a two-year term to serve on the Nebraska Microenterprise Partnership Fund (NMPF) advisory committee. NMPF is a statewide intermediary organization for the benefit of microenterprise organizations in Nebraska.

REAP staff presented teach-ins at the Center Annual Gathering on February 7, 2004 at Lyons, Neb. Topics included REAP Members: Sharing the Story and a session on improved customer service.

A Small Business Fair was planned for the Center Annual Gathering. Twenty-five small businesses registered to participate. Icy weather prevented many from coming. Due to the overwhelming support, the Small Business Fair will be held at the next annual meeting, scheduled for February 26, 2005. So mark your calendars!!

REAP Program Director Jeff Reynolds is beginning his final year on the Nebraska Enterprise Opportunity Network (NEON) executive committee. NEON is a policy and training organization for microenterprise organizations in Nebraska. Reynolds has served as the NEON Policy Chair since November 2000.

REAP staff attended the annual Nebraska Enterprise Opportunity Network (NEON) annual conference and also attended a Nebraska Microenterprise Partnership Fund (NMPF) training at Grand Island.

An alliance has been created between Nebraska Legal Services and REAP to bring business law training sessions to REAP members as part of a new outreach program. To help support family economic self-sufficiency, Nebraska Legal Services has launched the Micro and Small Business Assistance Program. The new program provides legal services to Nebraska’s micro and small business owners, particularly in communities where new job creation is not occurring and high employment exists.

REAP’s annual awards were distributed at the Center Annual Gathering. Recipients of the REAP 2003 awards were: Small Business, Abril Garcia, Mundo Latino, South Sioux City, NE; Officer, Russ Gifford, Chair of Siouxland Area Small Business Association (SASBA); Friend, Norene Fitzgerald, Director of York County Development Corporation, York, NE; Extra Mile, Susie Baird, Box Butte County Economic Development Corporation, Alliance, NE and Phyllis Schoenholz, Extension Educator in Thayer and Nuckolls County, Hebron, NE.

The Center for Rural Affairs Entrepreneur Award honors an innovative person working with REAP who is in the forefront of microenterprise development. Long-time REAP member Betty Vermeer, Hilltop at Sterling, Sterling, NE was the third-ever recipient of this award.

REAP WBC Director Glennis McClure conducted a “train the trainer” meeting with Center staff working on agricultural community revitalization. The meeting involved reviewing the “Mind Your Own Business” materials and different ways to implement to teach youth about entrepreneurship.

REAP WBC Director Glennis McClure and REAP Business Specialist Monica Braun presented the “Mind Your Own Business” workshop at Red Cloud High School in January 2004. In March, Glennis presented “entrepreneurial” information to 35 high school juniors at the Southeast Community College Career Expo.

Administrative Director Gerard Ras and REAP Program Director Jeff Reynolds attended the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2004 Microloan Program Conference at Washington DC in June 2004. While in DC, Ras and Reynolds participated with AEO Microenterprise Days.

REAP WBC Director Glennis McClure served as a judge with the International NU Venture Competition sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship.

The extensive REAP website, launched in August 2002, continues to expand and improve. REAP added a new online REAP Member Directory in June 2004. The directory has six main categories and a number of subcategories. Please visit the REAP Member Directory

REAP staff frequently participated and spoke at many conferences. REAP staff also did many public speaking engagements at various organizations and events.

REAP Staff was successful at making key contacts with bankers, service providers, and others. These relationships, many of which are collaborative, are key to REAP’s continued success.

Contact: Jeff Reynolds, REAP Program Director at 402.645.3296 or for more information.

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