Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, December 30, 2005

Building Hope for a Better Future - Part II

Building Hope for a Better Future in a Challenging Age

Center for Rural Affairs 2005 Annual Report

Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director, Center for Rural Affairs,

Our Mission: Establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and future of their communities.

Our Vision: Become the leading force engaging people and ideas in securing a better future for rural America.

Microenterprise Development

Our Rural Enterprise Assistance Program (REAP) is one of the nation’s premier rural development programs. But we are not resting on our laurels.

REAP is aggressively growing its portfolio, surpassing $2.75 million in lending to rural microenterprise, businesses with five or fewer employees. It is now approaching 5,000 businesses served with training, technical assistance, or loans. This year we worked with over 500 businesses.

REAP serves all rural microentrepreneurs. It made strides in reaching out to women and Hispanics entrepreneurs – a growing part of rural America. We launched our new Hispanic Business Center to serve over 50 rural Hispanic entrepreneurs. And REAP’s Women’s Business Center received the “Excellence in Microenterprise Work with Women Entrepreneurs” award from the Association for EnterpriseOpportunity (AEO).

REAP is a national model for small business-based rural development. It guides our efforts to build a program in the next farm bill to provide funding for other rural states to establish statewide small business development services.

Hometown Competitiveness Initiative

We are one of four core partners in an initiative led by the Nebraska Community Foundation and funded by the Kellogg Foundation to bring a four-pronged development process to rural communities. Hometown Competitiveness is based on the philosophy that rural communities can control their own destiny by investing their time, talent, and money in small business development, leadership development, youth engagement, and local philanthropy (charitable giving).

The Center’s REAP is a major element in the initiative, providing business training, technical assistance, and loans to existing and potential small businesses. We also arranged youth engagement and leadership development activities in six communities and are facilitating development activities in Knox County.

The Center will play the lead role in carrying the lessons learned to state and federal policymakers. Hometown Competitiveness can provide a model for federal and state programs to support local initiatives to revitalize rural communities across the nation.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs

Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Where can I find out more about Hometown Competitivness?


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