September 2007  Issue No. 25                    REAP HOME PAGE         A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs

Rural Enterprise Reporter

That's Impressive: REAP Member Activities
Educational and business opportunities were abundant for REAP members during the past year, thanks to their initiative and drive

>> Watson’s Steakhouse and Saloon, LLC is a welcome addition to the downtown of Minden. Dena Beck, REAP Business Specialist was able to work with Steve and Amber Watson, along with a local bank, to secure funding for the restaurant/bar that sat vacant nearly two years. “The Watsons were great to work with,” says Beck. “They knew what they wanted to do, but did not rush in.” The Watsons had a complete business plan that remains a working document as they delve into the business that has been open close to two months. Steve and Amber Watson transformed the former Shay’s building creating a clean, bright, 100 percent smoke-free environment for people.

>> The members of the Loan Tree Small Business Association (LTSBA) in Merrick County had the opportunity to experience QuickBooks when member Kim Brown (owner of CCOnline) hosted the October 2006 meeting and walked other members through the program. Kim is a great resource and did an excellent job of showing what QuickBooks can do for a small business owner.

>> The East Central Small Business Network (Butler County) met at member Pam Siroky’s business, Agency One, in November. They learned more about the insurance business and the importance of planning for the unexpected.

>> The Saunders County Independent Business Network (SCIBN) held their annual social gathering at the Upstream Brewery in Omaha in May. They reviewed plans for their annual fund raiser (food stand on July 4th in Wahoo) and enjoyed a fun social time. Member Michelle Truax shared pictures of the July 4th 2006 fundraiser. Judging by the photos, it looked like a good time was had by all.

>> The Crossroads Rural Entrepreneur Network (CREN) members in York County learned tips for successful brochures at their June meeting. Todd Kirshenbaum, Tourism Director with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, shared tips from his experience through years of coordinating the Visitor Centers along the Interstate. A discussion of the importance of Customer Service for successful businesses ensued after the presentation.

>> The Columbus Hispanic Business Network (CHBN) was formed this year in Platte County. The association hosted the REAP Basic Business Plan training in November and December with nine business owners attending. The training was co-sponsored by REAP and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce. They have initiated meeting at member’s business locations to better understand each business’ operations.

>> Norfolk and South Sioux City were sites for E-Commerce classes in February, March, and April. Norfolk drew 13 participants, with 11 participating in South Sioux City. The trainings were co-sponsored by REAP, Northeast Community College, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Office.

>> The Latino Business Association of South Sioux City (LBA), Northeast Community College, and REAP co-sponsored a Computer Basics Training in South Sioux City in November and December. Fifteen business owners and potential business owners attended the training.

>> Madison, South Sioux City, and Columbus were sites for Sales Tax Seminars workshops. Over 22 small business owners participated in the workshops.

>> Midwest Car Audio opened for business in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, in March 2007. Andy Weitzel dreamed of owning his own business for years, but couldn’t find help. Andy contacted Jerry Terwilliger, Panhandle REAP Business Specialist, for assistance in creating a business plan and applying for a REAP loan. Since opening his business, Andy has added a full-time employee and says that business has been very good ever since he opened. He thanks REAP for providing confidence and the help of the loan in making his dream come true.

>> Wanting to be self-employed and own her own business became a reality for Lesley Connot, Ainsworth, in December, 2006. Utilizing loans from her local bank and REAP, Lesley opened the Awaken Salon and Spa. Taking the step to be an independent business owner is challenging. There is always the unknown, “will it work?” So far the business has met or exceeded all Lesley’s expectations. Lesley continues to expand the business, first by making a room available for use by a Massage Therapist and recently by adding a tanning bed for customers. Lesley plans on bringing in another stylist within the next year.

>> The Cass County Association for Small Business Help (CCASH) began struggling in the spring of 2005. Lack of interest and busy schedules led the group to become inactive for several months. In fall of 2006, Angie Neumiller, owner of All About U Massage and Day Spa, went door to door to local businesses in Plattsmouth to see if interest was there to form the group. In December of 2006, the group met and elected officers. Chairperson, Angie Neumiller, All About U Message and Day Spa; Secretary, Dr. Julie Howard, Life Arts-Howard Chiropractic, PC; Treasurer, Cory Roberts, Arbonne; and Public Relations, Teresa Ferrill, Albin Lewis, Inc. and Stevie Trischmann, Hochus Focus Photography.

>> CCASH continues to grow and remain an active group by providing monthly speakers on topics of interest. In January 2007, Ms. Carol Blood from URPR spoke on Cross Networking, starting and building relationships while networking; Marketing for little or no cost. In February focus and attention was given to the group’s mission. Plattsmouth Detective, Chril Smith spoke to the group on Identity Theft in March. In April, Mr. Brad Ksiasek of Edward Jones spoke to the group about the different investments in your business and also explained terminology within financial business. Mr. Bob Mitchell of SCORE was the guest speaker in June. Bob stressed the importance of Business Plans. Ms. Carol Blood of URPR returned as the speaker in July, her topic was How to Encourage Growth in Your Rural Community.

The group has scheduled the Omaha Law Offices of McGrath, North, Mullin, and Kratz, PC, LLC to present in August and September on State and Federal laws affecting small business; employer’s obligations, payments on bonus commissions, vacation, and sick leave. In October and November, Ms Karen Douglas from the Law Offices will present on Marketing and Website Issues and the nature of Business Financing.

Kicking off the 2008 year, CCASH has scheduled Ms. Cheryl Clausen for a three month series in January, The Secret to Almost Instantly Doubling Your Business; February, Triage Strategic Planning Part I; March, Triage Strategic Planning, Part II.

Thanks to the great leadership and member support, CCASH has become “VERY IMPRESSIVE.” CCASH meets the third Wednesday of each month, 6:30-8:00 pm at the Plattsmouth State Bank at 424 Main Street, 2nd floor in Plattsmouth, NE.

Contact: Jeff Reynolds, REAP Program Director at 402.656.3091 or jefff@alltel.net for more information.

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