Rural Enterprise Reporter
Economic Times for Small Businesses:
Importance of Core Business Development
Services Heightened in Tough Economic Times
BY JEFF REYNOLDS, REAP PROGRAM
This year has been a rough one on many fronts. A struggling
economy negatively affects almost everything, including small
businesses. We have seen mega increases in fuel costs, consumer
goods, etc., and the cost of living continues to rise. For many,
simply trying to survive is a major struggle. Add the current
credit crisis, with out-of-control individual debt and home
foreclosures at an all time high, and financial ruin looms.
Small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. Many rely
on discretionary spending for profit. Markets continue to be
squeezed by increased competition, a lack of loyalty in
purchasing locally, and, in some cases, shrinking markets.
The bottom line is that many small businesses are barely
keeping their heads above water. Owning and operating a small
business isn’t easy in the best of times. In the worst of times,
it’s even tougher.
Making a Difference – Achieving Results through Tough
Programs like REAP are needed now more than ever. The demand for
programs that assist microen¬terprise businesses (small
businesses with 5 or fewer employees) far outweighs the capacity
currently available to serve them.
Small businesses need various “tools” to increase their
chances of being successful. The “core” services REAP offers –
access to lending capital, training, and one-on-one counseling
and business planning assistance – provide those tools. Small
businesses always need these services. But in the challenging
business conditions of today, they are indispensable to small
REAP staff work extremely hard to reach as many rural
entrepreneurs as possible. We are proud to be making a major
difference through very tough times, and look to continue
building our program’s scale to match the overwhelming need for
services throughout rural Nebraska.
REAP Results for Fiscal Year 2008
From July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, REAP provided assistance to
over 1200 entrepreneurs. REAP placed 47 loans totaling $474,691
and leveraged an additional $1,127,250 from other sources due to
REAP assistance. REAP lending and assistance during this time
frame helped to create or retain 353 jobs.
Since 1990, REAP has provided business development services
to over 10,000 micro businesses. Historically, REAP has placed
586 loans totaling $4,287,846 while also leveraging an
additional $9,491,405 from other sources due to REAP assistance.
Through good times and bad, the REAP program continues
working towards achieving maximum scale in rural Nebraska. Past
results show steady and consistent growth. REAP activities and
initiatives planned for the future clearly show our commitment
to reaching all entrepreneurs in need of microenterprise
development services in rural Nebraska.
Support from Funders Makes it Possible
The work of REAP and other microenterprise development programs
would not be possible without adequate funding. Funding of
microenterprise work in Nebraska and all across the United
States must be prioritized and increased to reach existing
demand for services. Microenterprise development plays a vital
role in the economic development framework and must be expanded
to reach maximum capacity.
REAP is committed to strengthening rural communities through
small, self-employed business development and looks forward to
making a critical difference for all startup and existing small
businesses in rural Nebraska.
REAP is funded through multiple sources, including: the
Community Development Block Grant program through the Nebraska
Department of Economic Development; Nebraska Enterprise Fund
through the Nebraska Microenterprise Development Act; Small
Business Administration Microloan & Women’s Business Center
Programs; the United States Department of Agriculture; and many
foundations and gracious donors.
The REAP program is striving to achieve maximum scale in
rural Nebraska. REAP is committed to strengthening rural
communities through small, self-employed business development
and looks forward to making a critical difference for all
startup and existing small businesses in rural Nebraska in need
of core small business services.
Contact: Jeff Reynolds,
REAP Program Director at 402.656.3091 or
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.