Success Stories

Yvonne Loy of Lincoln's Le Cupcake

She likes to talk about the time she joined her daughter-in-law, Megan, on the popular Food Network show Cupcake Wars, but television appearances aren’t why Yvonne Loy started what she calls her “passion.”  What makes Le Cupcake more than a crowd-pleasing, fast-growing business in south Lincoln’s Briarhurst Center is its kindhearted “Random Acts of Cupcakes.”

“A few times each month, we surprise someone with a free gift of cupcakes,” Loy explained.  Sometimes they hand out delectable delights right in the store, other times, people will come in to let them know someone who is going through a struggle and could use a pick-me-up. They delivered one sunny batch to a young, single mom in the hospital worried over her sick baby.

Then there was the random act that still leaves Loy overcome.

A husband had lost his wife. Still heartbroken weeks later, he called Le Cupcake to send thoughts to her former co-workers.  Touched, Loy and her crew kept his information, and a... Read More

Co-Owner Pat Shudak of Open Range Beef guides a tour of the processing plant (Photo courtesy of Linda Teahon, Chadron, Neb. Record)

For five years, the meatpacking plant in this part of ranch country in northwest Nebraska stood vacant and silent. Now, thanks in part to new owners and SBA financing, the plant has re-opened as a supplier for organic, natural grass-fed, premium and halal beef for domestic and overseas markets, and given a small town a big economic jolt.

Open Range Beef purchased the shuttered plant from the city of Gordon in late June 2013, and have spent the last five months upgrading the operation with state-of-the-art equipment and material. With the purchase and re-opening, the business also created 100 new jobs, said co-owner Pat Shudak, a big deal for a town of around 1,800 people.

Preparing products for exporting to overseas beef lovers

The 36,000-square foot plant expects to hit a target of 250-300 head of cattle per day, or about $120 million worth of cattle per year, from local ranchers for its USDA-certified beef processing operation. Open Range Beef chiefly will serve... Read More

Country Tire has been a treasured part of the small town community in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa for more than 25 years, from a friend to farmers needing fast service in their fields to moms looking for a new set of radials for the family car.  But after a summer of Missouri River flooding followed by a year of brutal drought, this family-owned company teetered on the brink of ruin.

The punishing climate extracted a toll on Country Tire and its four locations; with 65 percent of its business from the agriculture industry, said general manager/vice-president Eric Howland from his office in the company’s shop in Blair, "we lost $1.5 million in sales just in the fourth quarter of 2012."

Howland explained: "For example, when you don't have crops, you don't need to be in the field to harvest them. When you have corn stocks that brittle from no rain, there's no chance of tire damage.  So our calls to head out to fix flats were down 50 percent. Plus, a lot of farmers... Read More

While each of these five winners in 2014 has a different story to tell, they all have one thing in common: Setting the standard for small business start-up success in Nebraska.  Start with Zack Zimmerman (upper left), the Region 7 Small Business Development Center Excellence and Innovation Award winner. Since taking the role as director of the Nebraska Business Development Center's Lincoln office in December 2012, Zimmerman 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... Read More

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