September 2008  Issue No. 26                    REAP HOME PAGE         A publication of the Center for Rural Affairs

Rural Enterprise Reporter

Women's Business Center Update:
Second Year of Sustainability
Funding Brings Success


The REAP Women’s Business Center (WBC) entered its second year of sustainability funding in October 2007. Through three-quarters of the year, REAP business specialists have provided 1,586 hours of business counseling to 174 clients. Seventy-six training opportunities have been provided, and 1,495 have received training. Sixty-two percent of those trained were women. Approximately 55 startup businesses have received assistance.

In response to concerns in rural communities about loss of businesses as business owners retire, we collaborated with local economic development organizations and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Omaha Branch to discuss the importance of planning for Business Succession. Sessions were held in York, Hebron and Henderson, and more sessions are planned for the coming year.

Collaboration continues with the University of Nebraska-Extension in providing Computer Basics and eCommerce classes. Three Computer Basics series were held in Spanish in the northeast part of the state. One Spanish eCommerce session was held in the northeast.

We have co-sponsored five Marketing Sessions with local economic development organizations in north central Nebraska. Dave Buchholz, David & Associates, Hastings, shared his marketing expertise with business owners in O’Neill, Ainsworth, Valentine, Broken Bow and Ord. More sessions are planned next year.

Local REAP Associations/Roundtables continue to provide a critical support system for each other. They offer opportunities to learn about techniques, tools and skills to improve their businesses and benefit from networking. Topics covered include: Pricing Your Product, Grants for Small Business (Myths), Start Up Tips for Entrepreneurs, and Sales Taxes.

Since the REAP Business Update became quarterly, we have developed an email list of REAP members and supporters to get timely information to our members. If you wish to be included on our mail list, please send an email to Peggy Mahaney ( ) and request to be added.

The REAP Women’s Business Center was selected to participate in the Women and Company® Microenterprise Boost Program sponsored by the Citigroup Foundation and Women and Company® for the fourth year. Five low to moderate-income women business owners were awarded $2,000 each to enhance their businesses. This year we also provided a past Women & Company awardee with a $1,000 award.

Winners were announced at the GROW Nebraska Spring Membership meeting near Minden. It was a great opportunity to recognize these women and offer networking and learning from educational sessions held the same day. We plan to continue to collaborate with GROW Nebraska as both organizations strive to assist our business owners to grow and thrive!

We were pleased to receive a $2,900 grant from The WealthSpring Fund, an affiliate of the Nebraska Community Foundation and funded through the Cooper Foundation. The WealthSpring Fund is a statewide fund dedicated to the economic self-sufficiency of women and their families.

One of the most requested training topics we get is bookkeeping. We submitted a grant proposal to develop a bookkeeping curriculum. A Bookkeeping Basics Guide has been developed, which will be used with the curriculum under development.

Low to moderate-income women business owners will be targeted with this training. A solid foundation for bookkeeping will help them to be successful. We have enlisted the skills of Connie Harvey, owner of Efficiency Counts, Hastings, to assist in curriculum development. We are excited to develop this training and look forward to offering it in the coming year.

REAP staff continue to collaborate with other organizations and networks to provide information, training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small business owners across Nebraska.

Contact: REAP WBC Director Monica Braun for more information, or 402.643.2673.

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Center for Rural Affairs -- Rural Enterprise Assistance Project
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