By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

WNCC Hosts New Business Workshop

 

Forrest Hershberger

Pictured from left to right are Melissa Norgard (Economic Development Director for the City of Sidney), Paula Abbott (Western Nebraska Community College Sidney Campus Director), April Myers (Director of Business Development for Great Nebraska) and Hope Feeney (Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce president). Friday's meeting at Western Nebraska Community College was held to help potential entrepreneurs build a successful business.

Most everyone in the work world sees things on the job that could be done "better." Sometimes it is only a point of view, and other times it motivates a person to seek an opportunity to do it their way. Yet others find themselves in the kind of job uncertainty that encourages entrepreneurship.

Regardless the reason for exploring business ownership, the path is seldom smooth. Western Nebraska Community College's business development program held a meeting Friday for potential entrepreneurs. The program includes meeting where potential business owners can meet with resources and people who have worked their way into business ownership.

Paula Abbott, WNCC Sidney Campus Director, said Friday the process started about a year ago. She said as the college was evaluating the cosmetology program five years ago, it was decided to close the program for lack of students. Abbott said she convinced the administration to allow her to use the location for start-up businesses. While the former cosmetology facility is still in the renovation stage, the business incubator program is taking off, according to Abbott. She said the program is for a limited number of businesses to use the space on the campus and assets available on campus.


"I already have two businesses occupying our space," she said Friday.

The agreement is for start-up businesses to use the WNCC facility as part of the Business Incubator program for up to two years at no cost.

Friday's lunch meeting included an introduction of several people and the organizations they represent. Among the agencies represented were Sidney Economic Development Director Melissa Norgard, Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Hope Feeney, and Sidney Head Librarian Andrew Sherman.

Norgard talked about funds made available by LB840 and the impact on the Sidney community. She said LB840 generates $300,000 annually; $200,000 is allocated for job creation, $50,000 for projects on the north side of Sidney and $50,000 for downtown projects. She also talked about the Facade Enhancement grant awarded through the Historic Preservation board, and the sign grant, also awarded through the Historic Preservation Board. Both grants require historic relevance to be awarded. She said the historical district is generally from Toledo Street to Hickory Street. The City of Sidney also offers rent assistance for new businesses, up to $500 per month for six months.

Margaret Akin, director of the Scottsbluff Nebraska Business Development Center, talked of doing feasibility studies, completing a business plan and financial projections and helping with loan packaging and funding sources. She said the NBDC can also help with evaluating operations, helping with government contracting, exporting, market research, providing market research and providing business valuation.


Donna Kuskie spoke as a representative of the Workforce Center, The Workforce Center offers On the Job Training including applicant screening, and Job Seeker services including worksite screening, and classroom training for adults, displaced workers and trade affected workers.

Jerry Terwilliger is a Business Specialist for the Panhandle Region Rural Enterprise Assistance Program (REAP). He said his office can do loans of $100 to $150,000 with the majority from the Small Business Administration. Interest rates are at 5.75 percent for up to six years. He said the agency likes to see at least 10 percent equity and loans usually need to be secured with tangible collateral.

Bryan Venable is the Business Resources/Social Enterprise manager for the Panhandle Area Development District (PADD). The agency offers loans for business start-up, expansion and transitions. The agency also provides GAP financing and direct lending with loan amounts of $500 to $150,000.

 

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