Owning a business of any size can be a truly enjoyable experience, and it can lead to a level of financial freedom not found in the traditional nine-to-five world.
Nebraska small business owners have the opportunity to make a significant impact in their communities and in the lives of others, regardless of the industry in which they work or the products or services they sell. In Nebraska, both prospective and current business owners are helping shape the economic landscape each and every year.
As of 2016, there were more than 168,000 small businesses in Nebraska, employing more than 394,000 people in the state. As impressive is the fact that small businesses in Nebraska grew at a rate of 5.4 percent, nearly 4 percent faster than the average growth around the country. The state is poised for continued growth of small businesses as the broad economy is strengthened over time.
However, even with the excitement and potential for growth among small businesses in Nebraska, there is a consistent theme among most companies that can put a damper on long-term success. The inability to fund growth of a business can lead to shutting the doors altogether, or the need to downsize to fewer employees, locations, or service offerings.
In order for small businesses to thrive, it is necessary to recognize the opportunities to raise capital through Nebraska small business loans, grants, and outside investor funds. This quick guide offers insight into some of the options currently available for each Nebraska small business financing option.
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Small Business Loans in Nebraska
Small business loans are often the go-to for established businesses in need of predictable, fixed financing for a variety of business needs. Banks, credit unions, and some online lenders provide access to long-term financing through Nebraska small business loans, with varied interest rates, other costs, and repayment terms based on the financial stability of the company applying.
Small business loans in Nebraska are a smart choice for companies that can provide accurate documentation of revenue over the past several years, the value of other assets that may be used as collateral for the loan, and a detailed plan as to what the loan proceeds will be used for after approval. Not every small business will qualify for a Nebraska small business loan, but the following lenders are a good place to start for those companies that meet the eligibility requirements.
Centris Federal Credit Union
Established in 1934, Centris Federal Credit Union has been supporting communities in and around Nebraska with quality financial products and services. Small businesses have an opportunity to secure financing through the credit union in the form of a real estate loan, equipment loan, a business line of credit, or an SBA loan.
Small business loan amounts vary depending on the needs of the company, the type of loan selected, and the financial ability to repay the amount borrowed. Interest rates for Centris Federal Credit Union small business loans can also differ based on the financial track record of the company. Businesses can reach out to Centris Federal Credit Union either via phone or at a branch location to apply.
First State Bank Nebraska
As a full-service community bank located in southeast Nebraska, First State Bank Nebraska has been serving customers throughout the state since 1912. The financial institution offers customized small business loans as well as SBA financing for companies that qualify.
To be eligible, businesses must be in operation for at least two years, and there may be a requirement to pledge some type of collateral to help secure the loan against loss. Small business loans through First State Bank Nebraska have a wide range of interest rates and repayment terms, based on the financial history of the business applying. Small businesses can reach out to a lender with the bank either at a branch location or over the phone for specifics.
First Westroads Bank
Headquartered in Omaha, First Westroads Bank has a history dating back to 1967 as being a community partner to Nebraska neighborhoods through a bevy of financial products and services. The bank offers small business loans to finance real estate purchases, inventory or equipment needs, or covering working capital.
Small businesses may qualify for an SBA loan with a fixed term and interest rate, a business line of credit with flexible terms, or a commercial real estate loan for high-dollar property purchases. All small businesses applying for a loan with First Westroads Bank must provide detailed financial records, including assets, debts, and revenue for the last several years. The interest rates and repayment terms vary based on these details. Small businesses may submit a loan application by visiting a First Westroads Bank branch or by contacting the bank via phone.
Western Nebraska Bank
Since 1910, Western Nebraska Bank has been a staple in smaller communities throughout the state, focusing on helping rural neighborhoods with a variety of products and services. The bank currently offers small business financing solutions as well, including working capital loans, commercial real estate loans, construction to permanent commercial loans, equipment loans, and SBA loans.
Small businesses must provide detailed information about their financial track record, including assets owned, other loan obligations, and revenue for the past several years to qualify. The cost of borrowing and the length of repayment are dependent on these details. Small businesses can contact Western Nebraska Bank at a branch location or via phone to apply.
Small Business Grants in Nebraska
In addition to small business loans, Nebraska businesses may also qualify for grant funding. Through a Nebraska small business grant, financing is received which does not need to be repaid. However, the business must complete a specific set of work or a long-term project in order to qualify for grant funding. Here are a few small business grants in Nebraska.
Nebraska Innovation Fund Prototype Grant
Through the Nebraska Innovation Fund Prototype Grant program, small businesses operating in Nebraska may be eligible to receive matching grant funding to help with product development. This highly competitive business grant is made possible with the help of the Department of Economic Development, and up to $150,000 per project is available.
Applicants must have a business in Nebraska, and they must be able to provide a business plan and evidence of matching funds in order to qualify. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through the Department of Economic Development.
State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP)
Through the State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP), small businesses in Nebraska may qualify for financial assistance to help with export operations. As a reimbursement grant, small Nebraska businesses can receive up to 25 percent of eligible expenses for projects or activities related to increasing exporting products.
The amount of the grant varies depending on the project included in an application, but small businesses in the past have used funds for international trade shows, sales trips overseas, product testing, translation and printing services, and online marketing in other countries. The grant extends through late September each year, and the application can be submitted online.
Small Business Investors in Nebraska
Another common way for small businesses in Nebraska to secure financing is through an outside investor. Angel investors, venture capitalists, and other investment programs offer funding to high-growth businesses in a variety of fields. While these funds are not repaid in the traditional sense like loans, they do require some loss of control by the receiving business. Here are a few investor opportunities for Nebraska small businesses.
As a network of angel investors promoting businesses in the state, Nebraska Angels has funded an average of $2 million in capital for companies since its start in 2006. The investment firm provides access to several different angel investors, giving small businesses the chance to connect with and receive funding from the right-fit firm or individual. The firm invests primarily in local start-up companies that have a significant potential for a profitable exit. Business owners are encouraged to submit a funding application online to start the review process.
Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska Global is a venture capitalist firm keenly focused on technology companies operating in the state. The investment firm has had success in providing investor financing to viable, long-term software businesses working toward contributing to an influential technology landscape in Nebraska. This venture capital firm stands out because they do not require small business applicants to have a pre-determined exit strategy. Instead, they have a desire to invest in software companies that want to have an impact. Small businesses who fit the bill are encouraged to reach out to Nebraska Global via e-mail or by phone.
Dundee Venture Capital
With offices in Omaha, Chicago, and Minneapolis, Dundee Venture Capital is a nationwide investment firm helping businesses in need of seed capital. The investment company focuses its attention on technology businesses located in the Midwest, with initial funding ranging from $250,000 to $750,000 in seed rounds. Dundee Venture Capital encourages companies that operate in high-growth areas of technology to submit their story and request for funding through a brief online form.