It's Your Business - SBA Nebraska May 2014 newsletter

It's Your Business - SBA Nebraska May 2014 newsletter

May 2014

Lincoln NBDC Director Takes Home Regional SBA Award

Zack Zimmerman


Entrepreneurship Center's Robbins Tabbed Cornhusker State's Women in Business Champion

Brooke Robbins (right), the assistant director of Southeast Community College's Entrepreneur Center, has been named the SBA Nebraska Women in Business Champion for 2014.

Women in Business champions are judged on their efforts to increase business and financial opportunities for women and effectiveness in improving the environment for creation and expansion of businesses owned and operated by women.

Robbins, who has served with the Entrepreneurship Center since 2006, works with small business clients through its incubator, creating educational opportunities and events for nascent entrepreneurs and coaching potential and current small business owners on customer service, strategic planning and developing systems for sustained success in the marketplace. She also has developed a structured 10-week program for potential entrepreneurs to design, start and sustain a small business. 

Robbins also has helped coordinate speakers and events for Lincoln’s Ladies Who Launch, a business group in the city supporting and encouraging women-owned small businesses.

Zimmerman Claims Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award for Region 7

Since taking the role of NBDC Lincoln center director in December 2012, Zack Zimmerman (left) has leveraged his background in banking to direct more than $2.5 million in capital to emerging entrepreneurs and has helped entrepreneurs start 40 new small businesses.  He met with area bankers to convince them to refer potential small business owners to NBDC’s services, increasing new and long-term clients to the center’s new location in Southeast Community College's Entrepreneurship Center. 

Zimmerman also strengthened the center’s relationships with Lincoln’s Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Independent Business Association, among other community-focused business groups.  As a result of the jump in demand for NBDC services, Zimmerman brought aboard two interns to help handle the traffic, and pick up real-world experience serving small business clients.  

Finally, Zimmerman kicked off a monthly question-and-answer column in Nebraska’s largest newspapers, tackling thorny issues affecting small business owners such as hiring employees, how to seek private investor financing and incorporating a small business.

Brooke Robbins of Entrepreneurship Center
Argyle Octopus

Argyle Octopus Owner Snags Top Business Award for 1st Congressional District

Argyle Octopus and its owner, Jennifer Rosenblatt (above, center), were chosen as the 1st Congressional District’s top small business by the SBA based on its history as an established business, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and unit volume, response to adversity and innovation in products and services offered.  

The business was nominated for the award by Lincoln NBDC Director Zach Zimmerman.  

Argyle Octopus, a successful participant of the Entrepreneurship Center’s incubator, is a custom design and printing firm meeting marketing needs of startups and existing small businesses, offering products from die-cut business cards to seasonal direct mailers and postcards, to developing successful social media strategies. 

Rosenblatt has grown her company from a laptop, cell phone and minivan generating $55,000 in sales in 2011 to some $125,000 in sales two years later, creating two new full-time positions as a result. Her company leverages partnerships with local commercial printers and vendors to provide a wide range of customer services for her clients, including small printing runs, while also eliminating the need to purchase costly equipment and inventory. As she works on growing her business, Rosenblatt also offers presentations before Southeast Community College business classes and worked with students in the Lincoln Public Schools’ Entrepreneurship Focus program.

Jessica Haines and Jennifer Ellis of The Green Spot

Omaha Specialty Pet Store Named Small Business of the Year for 2nd District

Pet owners in the Omaha area have come to rely on The Green Spot for a fun and edgy twist to an ordinary pet store experience by offering organic, holistic and eco-friendly foods, treats, advice on nutritional needs, and toys for dogs and cats.

Jennifer Haines and co-owner Jessica Ellis (above, with Guppy) began working with the Omaha NBDC in 2011, and with an SBA loan approval soon after, opened their storefront in Jan. 2012; eight months later, the two launched an online retail outlet.  In May, to meet the demand of its growing customer base, the business will expand from 1,300 square feet to 3,300 square feet of retail space.

Haines credits NBDC not only with its business plan advice, "but the charts and reports, financial projections and advice they provided really helped," she explained.

Part of The Green Spot's success is an innovative "Spot Lounge," where pets can play in a fun setting while owners can sip a cup and surf on the free Wi-Fi, and recently added a pet food truck, dubbed "Off the Chain!" to offer locally-made natural treats and a full menu of meals for pets, as well as full-service party planning and catering for private and community events.

Haines and Ellis met through a non-profit rescue operation, and personally foster homeless animals, and in 2013, raised more than $12,000 for Pug Partners of Nebraska.

DL Foods owner Chris Donnelson

Western Nebraska Families Count on Groceries from 3rd District Winner

Chris Donnelson (above) started working at a local grocery store doing carry out duties when he was 16, eventually moving up the ranks to night manager.  But when an opportunity came up to buy the store in nearby Morrill, he jumped at the chance to own his own store.  Donnelson met with Ingrid Battershell at NBDC to work out cash flow projections for his business plan, and after getting an SBA guaranteed loan, bought D-L Foods in Dec. 2009.

By 2011, Donnelson could tell KOTA-TV sales at the grocery jumped 20 percent, and that annual sales have been steady, up more than $100,000 since he took over.  With a good selection of fresh cut-to-order meats, including inviting homemade garlic sausage, a customer favorite, and crispy fresh produce, the store serves a rural base of fewer than 5,000 who otherwise would have to head some 20 miles away for shopping.

"We're glad to be here," Donnelson said, "and the community really supports us."

D-L Foods is a staple of local volunteer efforts, including fundraisers for the Future Farmers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, the Morrill Community Development Association and grade and middle school classes.


Don't Miss Our Sale on SBA Guaranteed Loans

Don't miss out on this great opportunity to finance your new or existing small business with an SBA guaranteed loan through our network of lenders across Nebraska.  For a limited time, there are NO up-front fees from the SBA for all loans $150,000 or less, and veterans can get a loan up to $350,000 with no up-front fees.

Need working capital?  A line of credit?  Refinance an existing commercial loan?  Get inventory for your growing small business? Now is the time to visit your lender and take advantage, and save your business thousands of dollars in up-front fee costs.

Learn all about applying for an SBA guaranteed loan for your small business, and what banks look for in a successful application at our FREE seminar.

Take the Mystery out of SBA Loans

May 27, College Center, South Sioux City
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Learn about SBA and our resource partners’ free and low cost assistance opportunities, including workshops, seminars and one-on-one counseling services.

Call the Chamber at 402-494-1626 to get a registration form, and find out more about this event on the Chamber's web site.


SCORE Celebrates 50 Years of Small Business Success

SCORE, a resource partner of the SBA, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2014 – that’s half a century of volunteer mentors donating their time, knowledge and passion to helping over 10 million of America’s small businesses start and grow!

The SBA thanks the hundreds of thousands of SCORE mentors over the years that have helped to achieve this incredible milestone in serving our entrepreneurs. 

Be a part of the next 10 million served; receive free, personalized mentoring for your small business, by contacting one of Nebraska's SCORE chapters by entering your zip code on our easy-to-use site to find one near you.

Connect with us on social media.


Omaha Empowerment Breakfast

May 9
7 a.m.
Regency Lodge, 107th & Pacific. 

Featured Speaker:  Gerry Phelan of Midwest Woodworkers asks “What do you stand for?”  People do business with people they trust.  So how do you market your credibility?  Are you clear about what your company stands for?  

Learn how you can define your company’s character, clarify your intentions, and show the world what you stand for.  

Gerry is the owner of Midwest Woodworkers, winner of the 2013 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award.  Gerry is also the Chair of the Omaha Business Ethics Alliance Speakers Bureau.

Bring your business cards and have fun at the area's premier business networking event.  

> Register here  

Government Contracting Classroom Sidebar Graphic


Learn About the Federal Government as Your Customer

May 15
8:30-10:30 a.m. 
SBA Nebraska District Office, 10675 Bedford Ave., Suite 100, Omaha.

Speakers include representatives from: SBA Office of Government Contracting SBA Office of Business Opportunity and the NBDC Procurement Technical Assistance Center.  Get a beginner's overview of selling to local, state and federal government, including where to find bids on the Internet; Federal Business Opportunities; and SBA certifications, such as HUBZone and 8(a) Business Development.

> Online registration is requred

Stop by the SBA table at the Offutt Career Fair May 29

10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Lied Center, Bellevue

Visit with SBA experts and snag a copy of our Resource Guide, detailing help you'll need when starting your small business, such as SBA loan programs and government contracting opportunities for veteran-owned companies.  Talk to experts who can walk you through the process, starting with free, confidential one-on-one counseling with SCORE; then, how you can get help with a business plan and financing projections with NBDC.  Don't miss the chance to learn about free and low-cost networking events to meet other small business owners.

Affordable Care Act Helps Out Lincoln Art Supply Owner 

Peggy Gomez, owner of Gomez Art Supply

Watch our video to this story here.

She still bikes from her small house a few blocks away to her cute crammed shop in Lincoln’s bustling downtown, and bounds out from behind the counter with a smile to greet her regular customers coming from the university a short walk away.

Peggy Gomez has met all sorts of challenges over the past 12 years running her independent art supply store, from competing against the big chains to stocking brushes and canvases for the aspiring art student to the seasoned professional.

But a broken ankle gave her a challenge Gomez said she barely could afford.

>Read more

Nebraska District Office

10675 Bedford Avenue
Suite 100
Omaha, NE  68134

Phone: 402-221-4691

Ask us how we can connect you with technical assistance and counseling, and financing options to start or grow your small business 

Office Directory

Leon Milobar, District Director
Kathleen Piper, Deputy District Director
Mike Niehaus, Lead Lender Relations Specialist
Barb Foster, Lead Economic Development Specialist
Michael Foutch, Public Information Officer

SBA Resource partners