Small Business

The most effective development strategy for rural communities is small entrepreneurship – locally owned and operated small businesses.

Our Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) is committed to strengthening rural communities through small, self-employed business development. We offer four essential services: financing (microloans), business training, technical assistance, and networking.

Call on REAP when you are thinking of starting a small business or if you already operate a small business in Nebraska. You can find your nearest REAP business specialist here. Through REAP you can create a business plan, research potential markets and marketing ideas, discuss management issues with experienced business specialists, and apply for a small business loan.

Started in 1990, REAP has provided services to numerous micro/small businesses throughout Nebraska. (A microbusiness is defined as one with 10 or fewer employees.) We've placed more than $16 million in loans and leveraged over $23 million in additional funds from other sources. Check out a timeline of our program here.

REAP is a proud member of the Nebraska Small Business Collaborative, extending microenterprise businesses technical assistance and microloans in all distressed areas of Nebraska.


The Nebraska Microenterprise Handbook, “Manual de la Microempresa de Nebraska,” has been published in English and Spanish by the Community Economic Development Clinic at Creighton University. Find out more.

Small Business Notes


Hurdles facing the local meat markets

Speaking to an invisible audience on the other side of a computer screen, Nebraska State Senator Tom Brandt introduced himself as a Plymouth native and Tri County High School Class of 1978 graduate. He then recited his decades of experience in the meat industry.

After pandemic hits close to home, cafe owner contemplates changes

Coffee talk that once revolved around the weather and crops has evolved to include the latest COVID-19 numbers and milling over who got it and how they are doing. When one of the two regular employees at the Left Bank Cafe tested positive, those morning conversations came to a halt.

“Life kind of stops when one of you gets sick,” said Paula Matson, owner of the small cafe.

Stories of rural resiliency: Community newspapers persevere during pandemic, other challenges

They’ve been chronicling the people, places, and events of small towns for decades—some even 100 years or more. However, as social media, the internet, and other sources of information have come on the scene, community newspapers have had to fight for readers’ and advertisers’ attention.

Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, owners are once again facing tough decisions as they deal with declining revenue. While some newspapers across the country have closed, two Nebraska publishers are forging ahead.