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XWmernber rup.al interests U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., should be recognizedfor his attention to rural interests (March 7 news story). As co-chairman of the bipartisan congressional rural caucus, Smith is encouraging President Barack Obama to establish a White House Office of Rural Affairs similar to the Office of Urban Affairs that Obama established. If suchanoffice were established, I hope

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' the er,rlreNebraska congress on

3' delcgation would support University of Nebraska Regent ChuckHassebrook to fill the position of director. Hassebrook was recently endorsed by many rural organizations as a candidate for secretary of agriculture. He clearly has demonstrated his understandmg of rural problems and potential solutioils with his experience as director of the Center for Rural Affairs inNebraska. V.K.Vrans 9~1a7nrAN o h


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CUSTER CO. CHIEF THURSDAY WEEKLY BROKEN BOW, NE

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' receive REAP awards i I

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Two Broken Bow residents received awards at the annual Rural Enterprise Assistance Pnlgram ,event in North Plntte last week. a; iBroken Bow Chamber of C o h m e r c e Executive Director Denise Russell was named REAP Friend of the Yenr. Larry Harbour, LB Custom Crhome and Detail, received the ;)ward for REAP Small Business of the Year. Dena Beck, REAP business specialist. has regular office hours at the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce. Beck started meeting with people at the Chamber of commerce i n 2007, providing assistance to business owners

and entrepreneurs. Russell pronlotes REAP services in the chamber ne\\ xletter. to people who contact the chamber and on her weekly radio show. Hi~rh(lurworked with REAP to develop his business strategies and expand his business in Broken Bow. After ne;~rly 80 hours of work with Beck. Hnrboul. received :I loan from a local bank for the expansion. He alho applied for and received a USDA Rural Development loan for enersyefficient operations. Dena Beck presented Larry Harbour with the Business The expansion of LB custom chrome adds two full- of the Year award from the Rural Enterprise Assistance Program. Beck k a business specidst with the program. time jobs to the community,

Dena Beck presented Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce Director Denise Russell with the 2008 Riaad of REAP award from' the Rural Enterprise Asdstmce Pmumm.


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DAILYNEWS EVENING NORFOLK, NE

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Emu producer from Pierce i/ honored with pioneer award _A=-

Special to the Dally News

It was noted during the Rhoda Bjelland, an emu pro- award presentation that Bjelducer from rural Pieice, was land "found her way to our (cenrecently presented with the ter's) Hartington office nearly Center for Rural Affairs' Bob 15 years ago as she was startSteffen Pioneer ing her emu ranch. She learned to be a superior breeder and Award. The award handler of the big birds, so her recognizes a breeding pairs and chicks came person who to be in demand around the remakes an ex- gion. "Rhoda developed a tasty traordinary contribution to emu meat jerky that quickly the work of the sold out at area taverns. She organization's grew her emu oil sales and deBjelland gal Oppor- signed new recipes for differtunities and ent lotions so successfully that Steward Program. The award is the oil processor in Iowa asked named after Steffen, a pioneer- her to become a partner." Through her health-anding organic farmer from Bennington and one of the center's beauty products business, original board members in Cedar Ridge Emu Products, Bjejland markets her emu lo1973.

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tions and oils around the country. It was also noted that she "has helped the Center for Rural Affairs and fellow small business owners at every turn. "Early on, she wrote how-to articles for (the center's) beginning farmer newsletter. She worked with two other cooperatives to earn one of the state's first value-added agricultural grants." Bjelland also helped launch the Nebraska ostrich and Emu Association and served as president at the state and Central States Ostrich and Emu Association levels. In 2008, she shared her business lessons as a speaker at the Center for Rural Affairs' Marketplace conference.


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BANNER-PRESS THURSDAY WEEKLY DAVID CITY, NE

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Project to link rural and urban businesses Are you a rural small business owner? An entrepreneur who aspires to own your own business? Do you work with people who own and operate rural small business? If so, read on. The Center for Rural Affairs in partnership with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District is holding meetings throughout the region on a new project to tie rural small businesses to large urban businesses. Our goal is to identify larger urban businesses that need materials or services that a network of small rural businesses could provide for them. At the meetings we will share information about the project and ask for your input on how to make the idea work better. Community leaders, economic developers and small

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or potential small business owners are all invited to attend. Here are the details on the meeting dates and locations. "Norfolk: Wednesday March 4, 11:OO - 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided) at Prenger's, 116 E Norfolk Ave *Columbus: Thursday, March 5, 11:OO - 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided) at Wunderlich's Catering, 304 23rd S t *Fremont: Tuesday, March 10, 11:OO - 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided) a t the City Council Chambers, 400 East Military Road "Creighton: Wednesday, March 11, 11:OO - 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided) a t Drovers, 408 Rice Street *Bloomfield: Tuesday, March 24, 11:OO - 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided), a t the community center 101 S

Broadway S t "South Sioux City: Tuesday April 14, 11:OO 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided) location to be determined *West Point: Monday, April 20, 11:OO - 1:00 p.m. (lunch provided) a t the Pizza Ranch, 245 South Main We are also planning future meetings in Albion, Neligh and Wayne. We'll send more information about those when we have it. Please let me know if you plan to attend one of the meetings, though a n RSVP is not required. If you have questions, thoughts or ideas for the project but cannot attend one of the meetings, you can find my contact information below. Kathie Starkweather Center for Rural Affairs, kathies@cfra.org, 402-4388496

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CFRA roundtable discussion set for Friday The C:i%tt:r for Rural Affairs staff and board has scheduled a c~)'i\~wuility roundtable discussion for next Friday 111 Broke;] Bi IW. The event will beghl at 6 p ln. at LB Custom Chronie and .A Detail, 13'35 South 'B' St. in Broken Bow. The discussioil is open to the public and participants are invited to share their views on the challenges, solutions and future of rural America and ideas ou hov~to revitalize Nebraska's rural coinmunities. Light refreshments will be provided. Larly Harbow: owned and operator of LB Custom Chrome and Detail, received the 2009 Nebiaska Entrepreneur of the Year award frorn the Cenlec Tor R~u.alAffairs. Harbour will share his experiences ahout nlovirlg from Olilatia to rural Nebraska and starting up his own business. For more information about the Center for Rural Af. ,. fairs, go online to.-www.cfr;i.org/.

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STAR-HERALD MORNING DAILY SCOTTSBLUFF, NE Circulation= 11625

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'Statewide progra 1 businesses succeed sistance Project through the Center for Rural Affairs in Staff Reporter 2000. Ih'his position, he covWhen Andy Wietzel looked ers 15 counties in the Panat launching his own busi- handle, helping small business, he cgnsulted with the nesses. "I really enjoy working with Nebraska Business Development Center, looking for in- small businesses," he said, saying that the REAP proformation on his venture. Wi~tzel,who opened Mid- gram has provided more than west Electronics in March $500,000 million in direct 2007, had been referred to loans and leveraged $1.7 milJerry Terwilliger, Panhandle lions in loans for more than business specialist with the 50 businesses. Many of the businesses that Rural Enterprise Assistance Project. Working with Ter- consult with Terwilliger are williger, Wietzel received help in need of "technical assisformulating a business plan tance," which Terwilliger said and garnered a loan for refers to helping business $25,000 to help purchase owners develop a business equipment and inventory for plan, financial projections and guidance in gathering his car audio business. "Not only did REAP help marketing research. "For a new business, the give me advice with financing but also helped outline point- key is market research," Terers for managing my busi- williger said. 'You need to see if the products or services you ness,'' Wietzel said. Wietzel. who has s' '1 ~0 ex- are planning to offer are panded his business i: r i ;~ i - n j ~ d e dor wanted. We can stalling car stereo . :yo- -.rjln g-iiide business owners ... hut they are the ones who nents to include im.: , ~117 mote car starters h r i' ,*'.i'r nedd to do the work." components, sail! tlr. f ~ u n d Financial projections are the help of the RF1-2 P F:r,i:rdrn important for the two years, he said, "because that is when to be invaluable. "Through REAP, I received most businesses fail." He also provides one-onbacking that went a little bit above and beyond what a tra- one assistance and trainings ditional financial institution to help business owners offers," he said. "They (REAP) learn about tools that will want to see you succeed as help their business, like acmuch as you want to suc- counting software. REAP has ceed." provided more than 284 peoAnd the kmsiness seems to ple with business plan and be well on its way to succeed- technical assistance and ofing. 'CVietzel started the busi- fered training courses in Alness as the sole employee and liance, Crawford, Rushville, has since added another full- S c o t t s b l u f f I G e r i n g a n d time employee and a part- Bridgeport. time employee. He is in the Businesses could also qualiprocess of expanding his busi- fy for a $35,000 revolving loan ness to include home theater program, made available systems. He also recently re- through a number of sources, ceived a s m a l l business including community block grants, the Microenterprise award, Terwilliger said. L i k e W i e t z e l , m a n y funding and others. "Some of these businesses prospective entrepreneurs start out with an idea, hoping may not exist if not for the to see it succeed. Terwilliger, loan program," he said. "We who spent more t h a n 30 wanL 10 be able t o create years in the banking indus- jobs." Programs such as REAP, try, said he became involved in the Rural Enterprise As- made possible by state and -

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federal Microenterprise programs, are in danger because of budget cuts. In Gov. Dave Heineman's recently proposed budget, he cut $1.5 million from t h e program. T h a t means that the program will have $500,000 in funds to help businesses throughout the state. At the same time, the federal government has proposed trimming the budget for the Microloan program, even in this period of economic stimulus. "What you will see happen is we will have less loan funds," he said. "It could mean we will have to cut back on services. Western Nebraska will be impacted more heavily than eastern Nebraska, where there are a multitude of programs available to small businesses." Terwilliger said he averages four to six inquiries a month, a figure he says points to the need for the REAP programs. He said he also handles referrals from area banks, Nebraska Workforce Developnlent and economic development programs throughout t h e Panhandle. "A lot of the programs that we offer, such as training, are hard to get in the Panhandle without REAP,'' he said, saying that many of the requests he receives for training are in marketing areas. "Speakers of the caliber needed aren't based here and our program allows us to offer trainings in communities." The REAP program and advocates are trying heavily to promote their program to prevent cuts, Terwilliger said. You only need to drive down the main streets of most Nebraska rural communities to see the impact of REAP programs and loan programs. Small businesses, like UTietzel's, begin, grow and add to communities, he said. "Small huslness IS a ma?nstay of a community, not only in western Nebraska, but throughout the country."

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Photos by Maune!te Loeks

ABOVE: Jerry Terwilliger is a Panhandle business specialist with the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project. i~ in Scoffsbluff, is one of many Panhandle BELOW: Andy Wietzel, owner of ~ i d w e ~lectrbnics businesses that have benefitted from a loan program administered by the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project.

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30 entrepreneurs meet in Holdrege; Bertrand couple tells of their success GrowNebraska and entrepreneurial practices were the educational focus of the PK I & E Club held Monday in Holdrege. some 30 entrepreneurs attended from the Phelps and Kearney.County area while others traveled from as far away as Cozad and Pleasanton. Ju?e!l Anderson..Etake, director of GrowNebraska spoke about what makes entrepreneurs successhi. GrowNebraska helps its members, Nebraska entrepreneurs, with marketing their products across a broad spectrum Anderson Ehrke also spoke on the Elements of Achievement; Drive, Desire, Goal and Dream. Holen One Farms owners, Renee and Mike Holen of Bertrand, shared their company's story which began when the emptynesters retired from farming Through serendipity they came into possession of a secret marinade recipe they tasted in a California restaurant. The marinade became the foundation of their line of mari-

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nades, rubs and sauces. Their products have recently appeared on the shelves of most Hy-Vee stores in Nsbraska .. . ... . ., The Holens' also operate a concession stand which features steak on a stick that is a staple at several area events. Recent restructuring has allowed the Holens to expand . the-, concession ksifiess into catering. Holen said that getting expert help is essential- in learning how to operate a business. "You can't make it on your own-tap into somebody else's knowledge ...network for help." was Holen's suggestion. Anderson Ehrke contluded by giving tips about Internet marketing, saying that a web site can be used to market products effectively. Once a site is up, there are numerous ways to get reports on its effectiveness. She said using podcasts on YouTube and messages on Facebook are some of the latest online marketing tools. The I & E Club is a group

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From Page 1 innovators, investors, inventors and entrepreneurs meet to network with members, make connections with people who can help them, and learn about important topics. The meeting includes social time, an educational component and networking time. The next meeting is scheduled for March 16 at the Fire Hall in Minden. I & E is sponsored by PI: Partnership of Phelps and Keamey Counties, South Central Economic Development District (SCEDD), and the

Rural..Ente~~ise.A~si.st.a.xe:~~.Er.aject(REqp). For more information go to www.scedd.us under Training.

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Universal Information Services , Inc. http://news.universaI-info.com Profile: 111 - Center for Rural AfFairs Recipient: John Crabtree

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U.S. Ag Sector Last To Reap Recession Agriculture Has Remained Steady But Bound To Change Soon

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BY LISA HARE

lisa.hare@yankton.net Since the current U.S. recession began, - roughly 4.4 million jobs have been elimi.nated with more than hlalf of those positions disappearing in the last four months. February alone saw 651,000 jobs disap pear. Yet, amid recessionary turmoil, the nation's agriculture sector has, so far, remained somewhat insulated according to economists. But for how long? "Eventually, some of the (effects.of the recession) will catch up with (the agriculture sector)," said AlariMay, giain marketing specialist with the South Dakota State University Economics Department. May added that under recessionary periods, it's not unusual to see commodity prices weaken. But continued grim reports have many farm and ranching families concerned that the nation may be facing another Great . Depression. However, even though grain prices are considerably lower than the record highs of a few months ago, farm organization leaders and economists contend there's still no comparison between today's challenges and the circumstances of the 1930s. "Within agriculture, we're in considerably better shape now than we were In the '30s," said Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs Executive Director and Rural Policy Program Director. "Things are much better for the average farmer than they were then." By 1930, agriculture no longer employed more than half the work force in the U.S. as it had in the 19th century, but it was still the nation's biggest employer - and geographically the most widespread. "Farmers couldn't grow anything, and if they did, it didn't bring anything," -

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Hasscbrook said. "It's not like that at all right now." By Dec. 1, 1930, market price declines in the U.S., compounded by drought, had cut the value of crops by 27 percent. Corn hit 69 cents arid cotton 9 112 cents. The July 1931 wheat contracts sank to 61 cents. Livestock prices dove about 40 percent. Perhaps most devastating to agriculture in the U S , and worldwide at that time, was the collapse of wxld trade, And the closing of international markets prevented its recovery until World War 11. Currently, the USDA has forecasted an 18 percent decline in net farirl incoine for 2009 when compared to 2008. But one of the most troubling forecasts came on Sunday when economists at the World Bank predicted that the global economy and the volume of global trade wodd both shrink this year - the first decline since World War 11. Some fear this factor could be the tipping point for agriculture's immunity to the recession. "With foreign countries producing more and a sharply higher dollar, there will be more foreign competition at a cheaper price than what U.S. prices are," said Midwest Market Solutions president Brian Hoops. "It'll mean less

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world demand lor U.S. exportable goods and less world demand for ag products in general." "Ag is very volatile today," Hassebrook said. "Farming is very risky business because crop prices are all over the place." He added that choices producers make about when to sell crops and when to buy fertilizer can make an enormous difference today. "Frankly, those factors can make more difference than how well you farm," Hassebrook said. According the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), 2009 net farm income is forecast at $71.2 billion in the U.S. Though down by $18.1 billion (20 percent) from the preliminary estimate of $89.3 billion, it's still 9 percent above the average of $65 billion earned in the previous 10-years. "The farm economy has been slim pickings for several years," Hassebrook said. "But the farm economy on average is better now than it has been for a long time." May added that producers are coming off a period of high prices that were "mostly artificial" driven up by outside speculators. "Whether or not they'll continue to fall remains to be seen," he said, adding that changes in land values are more telling than fluctuations in commodity prices. During the Depression, bank closings became a regular news

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item. The Commerce Department Yearbook reported a record 1,345 bank suspensions in 1930 - most of which were small rural banks hit by depressed commodity prices that crumbled collateral value held on loans. Real estate loans were hard hit by declining real estate values, occurri~gin both rural and urban areas. Similarly, under current marI ket stress, if land values begin to fall in the Midwest, some rural banks could be threatened. "Some rural banks that were heavily loaned out to farmers and ethanol plants that go bankrupt will be hit," Hoops said. May added that no significant changes in land values have occurred yet. Another recent USDA forecast shows current net farm income per farm household from on-farm sources at just $4,144 (or about $345/month). The report showed that 95 percent of the average farm household's income comes from off-farm sources. "We're in uncharted water," Hassebrook said. "I don't think anyone can predict where ag is going." He added that the one thing we do know for sure is that things arc' extremely volatile. "(The ag sector) is somewhat insulated," Hoops said, adding that there is always a delay in econorriic trends between the lnetropolitan areas and rural America. "Things are bound to get worse here," he added.

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