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    From the Center for Rural Affairs

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 22, 2014

    Contact: Dena Beck, Center for Rural Affairs, or Phone: (308) 528-0060

    REAP Goes to Washington

    Lyons, NE – The Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project-REAP met in Washington, D.C., this last week during National Small Business Week, an annual event, proclaimed by the President, to recognize and honor the contributions small businesses make to our economy and communities.

    REAP is part of “The Friends of the SBA Microloan Program” a network of seasoned intermediary lenders committed to supporting a strong and effective Microloan Program at the Small Business Administration (SBA). The Friends network provides a venue for intermediary lenders to discuss program operations, share success stories, challenges and best practices. The primary mission of the Friends network is advocacy and participating intermediaries work to keep policy makers in Washington updated on how SBA resources are being used to finance, support and grow small businesses and create jobs in urban and rural communities across the country. Some of these programs, including REAP, were the original programs chosen to run a pilot microlending program in the U.S. in 1991.

    While in Washington D.C. the group had an opportunity to share intermediary lender and small business success stories with Congressional staff at the briefing organized with the House Small Business Committee as well as key staff with the Small Business Administration. Each program made appointments with elected officials and staff to discuss the importance of small business and alternative lending sources.

    “It’s always good to connect with folks in D.C. and tell the stories of our businesses, share our successes as a program and needed changes to stay current with the economy and the changing needs of our customers,” stated Dena Beck, Senior Project Leader and Loan Specialist with REAP. “This year was special with the inclusion of a SBA Microloan recipient, Nebraska small business and REAP/Rural Investment Corp-RIC board member Connie Harvey, owner of Efficiency Counts in Hasting, NE. Our elected officials and SBA program staff often hear from us working out in the field, but when a business talks to them about their journey, struggles and successes, it makes it very real for them.”

    According to Harvey, “I gleaned a lot about how Advocating in Washington works… and I was really impressed with the caliber of REAP and the other intermediaries that came from all over the United States. I felt honored and humbled to be given such an opportunity to participate in this process. One thing that was emphasized by the leadership of the SBA, and demonstrated while talking individually with representatives, is that real-life stories are the most effective means of getting our points across.”

    Beck added, “ I was astonished by the statistic of 8,000 small and micro business owner credit applications declined each business day according to the Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew, June 10, 2013.”

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