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Success Stories

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

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.

After completing a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and a master’s in fine arts from the University of Minnesota, and a nine-week business preparatory course at Southeast Community College sponsored by the SBA, she started Gomez Art Supply in 2003 and moved to her present location three years later.

“I’d always been involved in arts, one way... Read More

Family-Owned Cardinal Farms of Dakota City Named SBA’s Nebraska Small Business of the Year

They've grown over six generations from a row crop farm in far northeast Nebraska into a modern example of green, sustainable agriculture, tripling revenues since 2000 under the leadership of family patriarch Doug Garwood (pictured). And now, Cardinal Farms, a family-owned agricultural firm in Dakota City, has been named the Cornhusker State's Small Business of the Year for 2014 by the Small Business Administration. The company, run by Garwood, who serves as president and chief executive officer, and his son Scott, who serves as vice-president and chief operating officer, last May used an SBA loan to help finance a new $1 million fresh fish production facility.

Cardinal Farms was chosen as the state’s top small business 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.  They were nominated for the honor by Loren Kucera, Director, Nebraska... Read More