Thursday, March 22, 2018

Grain Place Foods, Inc. Participates in USDA Local Foods Grant

Increasing local food distribution options is one of the goals of the USDA grant awarded to GROW Nebraska. GROW Nebraska is working with ag-producers and ag-cooperatives throughout the state to brand their products, distribute to new regional markets and build wholesale business opportunities.
One local Nebraska business now has global customers thanks to GROW Nebraska and comments on the popular Dr. Oz show. Grain Place Foods, Inc. went from selling 10-20 two pound bags of hulled barley a week to receiving 600 orders in just three days after Dr. Oz touted hulled barley. Potential customers were easily able to find them on GROW Nebraska’s Amazon store. Christian Evans says this is a great example of how their partnership with GROW Nebraska has benefited their company. GROW also helps create awareness of the economic and cultural value of buying local to have transparency in food sources.

Grain Place Foods, Inc. provides high quality, organic grains and seeds. Their products include seeds, whole grains, old fashioned rolled grains, and stone ground flours and meals. The mission of Grain Place is to provide their customers grain products that are grown and produced in an ecologically sustainable and socially responsible manner - with the conviction that how your food is produced does matter!

GROW Nebraska is a program of Central Plains Foundation, Inc. and helps maximize the state’s entrepreneurial spirit and build the global reputation of Nebraska businesses by providing sustainable business environments through business-building marketing and education. To learn more about GROW Nebraska or Nebraska entrepreneurs and businesses, visit

To purchase products from Grain Place Foods, Inc., click here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cooper’s Best Wins The 2018 Russ’s Market Best Local Product Award

Kearney, Neb. – Congratulations, Cooper’s Best! On March 15, 2018 at GROW Nebraska’s MarkeTech Conference, Susan Zink from Cooper’s Best accepted a trophy for the 2018 Russ’s Market Best Local Product Award. GROW Nebraska, an educational 501©3 nonprofit, and Russ’s Market teamed up to identify the best local company in the state, and contestants were judged on innovation, promotion, sales, and local involvement.

Nominees for the award were accepted until February 28. “After sharing the list with our category managers, Cooper's Best stood out,” said Marty Jarvis, Director of Marketing for Russ’s Market. “We have worked well with Susan Zink and her husband [Mark] for years.”

“Cooper’s Best is the perfect example of a company that is working to build up our state, create jobs, and expand into new markets,” said Janell Anderson-Ehrke, CEO of GROW Nebraska. “Susan is a charter member of GROW Nebraska, and we’ve been able to see first-hand their growth and dedication to our communities.”

Cooper’s Best is one division of a parent company: Heartland Gourmet. In 1996, the Zinks began manufacturing and the business has evolved into large-scale operation, which supplies products for both wholesale distribution and private labeling. Over the years, Heartland Gourmet has diversified to keep up with changing tastes and demands. For example, their 54,000 square foot factory is certified in organic and gluten free manufacture. They are a staple in the Lincoln community and throughout the state.

Both GROW Nebraska and Russ’s Market are committed to helping develop Nebraska companies and promoting them. Russ’s Market is proud to be a Nebraska company. They started in Lincoln in 1964. This award fits perfectly with their Nebraska pride and heritage.
“This is a win-win situation. We’re all about providing recognition to local companies, and Russ’s Market’s willingness to stock local products on their shelves is something everyone should celebrate. By getting products into Russ’s Market, it provides our businesses with the confidence and sales experience to capture additional marketing opportunities, which means selling in pallet lots, resulting in  more revenue and job creation,” said Janell Anderson Ehrke, CEO and founder of GROW Nebraska. 
Russ’s Market has been a member of GROW Nebraska since 2009. Today B&R Stores, Inc. operates six employee-owned Russ’s Market stores in the Lincoln area and one in Hastings. Russ’s son, Pat Raybould, serves as president of the company. In addition to operating the Russ’s Market stores, B&R Stores, Inc. operates ten Super Saver stores in Nebraska and western Iowa, Save Best in Lincoln, and the Grand Central Apple Market in Kearney.
GROW Nebraska is a nonprofit membership organization, serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses. The organization provides market access, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs and scholarship opportunities are funded in part by federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Immerse Yourself a World of Romance, Adventure, Comedy and Intrigue

The Story Behind The Stories

by Annette Snyder 

I read a lot when I was young and had more time.  As I got older, adult life kicked in with school, family, work—we all know the drill. I had no choice but to put my love for fiction on the back burner and reserve it for times between mountains of laundry, juggling two jobs and baseball games. 

One day, my Father-In-Law told me, “I’ve got this old computer.  I want you to have it so you can write.” I had no idea what he was talking about so I played solitaire for a few weeks.

A day after receipt of the computer, my dearest friend and I discussed how our families arrived in the United States.  I said, “What a great story that would make.” I scribbled the idea on a paper towel so I wouldn’t forget and transferred those ideas to a file on my computer.  I used the paper towel to clean spit-up later.

So--My first novel, Travis Pass, was born from an idea inspired by a casual conversation, scribbled on a piece of trash and typed on a donated computer. 

After writing Travis Pass, I wrote Sally Murphy, Liberty Road, RockCreek, Albert’s Rain, Arpetta Honor and Whiskey Shots 1—all in an 1800’s era series.  The characters kept popping up in my head.  Just recently, I got an idea for another story during era so that may be my next project.

After I decided to put my 1800’s characters away, until recently that is, I thought of my grandmother and her interesting life.  I wanted to write a version of that and the idea for Viveka’s War, Eureka Springs and Respectable Affair came to light.  That’s my WWII trilogy.

I just couldn’t ignore Amen Packard, my contemporary, firefighter hero from Intimate Flames and, when I finished his novel, the seven siblings decided I needed to write their stories as well—I’ve got two finished.  Going Twice is the third and I’m just finishing up final edits before I submit to publishers.

A walk to the post office, a visit with a friend, standing in line in Wal-Mart buying socks, driving to work, seeing an old building on a corner, those are some places I find stories.  I scribble the ideas down—generally on pieces of trash I can easily grab—still.

Occasionally I write for my local and regional newspapers and also write essays for friends, family and community related things.  I do lots of writing at my awesome real job as well.

As far as literary training, I’ve got none past one college creative writing class. That professor told me I should write for a living - I still have the project on which he wrote the comment. 

I ran into him a few years back and I confessed he probably didn’t remember me—how many students had he taught at UNL between 1980 and 2018?  I gave him my business card that lists my website, blog and such and offered a short account of my writing career path.  I thought he was going to cry but even more, it offered me the boost I needed at the time to keep chugging along, even though I haven’t scored the a New York Times Best Seller—yet.       

Twitter: @AuthorAnnSnyder

Monday, February 12, 2018

Meet Andrea! GROW Nebraska's new e-Commerce Specialist

Welcome Andrea! Andrea is GROW Nebraska's new e-Commerce Specialist. She's experienced in photography and content creation for online listings, ensuring that members will have top-notch listings on, eBay, Amazon, Shopify,, and more. We're thrilled to have her on board our team as we expand our Innovation Center in Kearney, and we want to help you get to know her because she'll be helping you find and sell the best Nebraska products online:

Meet Andrea: An Interview with GROW Nebraska's new e-Commerce Specialist

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am person who has a strong interest in entrepreneurship as well as photography. Since I was very young, I had an interest in figuring out how to make money. My first entrepreneurial venture happened when I was a kid. I went to the library and got a book that taught me how to do magic tricks. So, I started doing short magic shows during recess. I thought it would be smart to have the kids pitch in quarters and dimes so I could purchase more magic supplies and make better magic shows for them. Then I was kindly advised by a teacher that I should stop doing that.  
Well, my magic show business was abruptly ended. However, my dad was a natural entrepreneur, and he would always encourage me to do money-making deals on the side. In the summer I used to collect up Levi jeans to resell. I also would flip items that I found on garage sales and resell them by advertising in the local newspaper
As I got older, I developed a strong interest in photography and art. Eventually, I ended up working in an art department for ten years. One of the artists told me about a website called Etsy. (Etsy is a website where you can sell handmade goods and art.)  I loved taking pictures of Nebraska landscapes. So, I soon opened up a new store and was a bit surprised to be making sales so quickly.  Whenever I would make a large sale, I would have this "I feel like I won the lottery" feeling. It was great to be able to use my Etsy sales to help fund the purchase of new photography equipment.
When I saw that GROW Nebraska was looking for a person who would do their shipping and online listings, I thought this job would be a natural fit for me. So I applied for the job. I was delighted when GROW Nebraska management decided to hire me.
What’s your favorite part about your job so far?
In any organization the leadership makes or breaks the job. The favorite part about my job is working with a supervisor who has been patiently training me to be effective at my job. Crystal McKillip is a natural teacher who has made transitioning into this job a positive experience.
Do you have any favorite products from GROW Nebraska?
I think the very best products solve a problem.  A problem I have seen in my life is men receiving non-creative gifts. I personally have witnessed quite a few men opening presents that don't exactly thrill them. Men commonly get practical gifts like socks. Socks are an okay gift, but I have noticed that GROW Nebraska has some great gifts for men that are unique and have  a "cool" factor.  
One fantastic product is called Ogallala Bay Rum aftershave. The aftershave comes in an attractive blue glass bottle, and the fonts chosen on the label look vintage. The product smells wonderful, and is at an affordable price point for a gift. The cologne sells for around $16.  
When I was learning more about the product, I read about it online. One website had a humorous statement about the cologne. It stated, "Be warned though ' this product should probably come with a warning label, because it's been known to make women feel weak in the knees." 
Another interesting "manly" gift that GROW Nebraska sells is Pacha soap. There is one called "Pipe Tobacco & Coffee." Another soap that I like is called "Clarifying Charcoal." These soaps are great because they are man-friendly, organic, and they have a great scent. These soaps sell for only $6.50 each. When you purchase one of these soaps, another soap is given to someone in need. So, you are helping someone else when you buy this soap.   
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a member of GROW Nebraska?
 I think GROW Nebraska is a very valuable organization because it trains people how to actually "do business." A lot of people may have a great idea for a product, but only have a vague idea about what they need to do to get it launched. GROWNebraska has training programs that teach people how market their product and generate revenue. I would encourage anyone to join that feels they have a great product to sell. 
Why is supporting small businesses important to you?
There is a difference in dealing with a small locally-owned store and dealing with a large, big box store. Here is a quick example from my own life.
When I have gone to the locally-owned hardware store down the street, I said to the clerk "Squirrels are chewing holes through the wall in my attic. I need something that I can use to cover the holes." The clerk quickly knew a solution to my problem.  He led me right over to the product that I needed and I was able to be on my way. 
On a different day, I decided to go to the large, big box store . I said to the clerk, "I need steel wool. Where is the steel wool?" The sweet, young clerk gave me a confused look. Then I tried to explain further and he still didn't quite know what I was talking about. (This is possibly just an isolated example. I am sure there are people that work there that know what steel wool is.) However, I think it is understandably difficult for clerks in large stores to know all about every product and where exactly the products are located. Often, small business owners have a strong knowledge of their products as well as where the products are located, so so they are able to provide better customer service. 
Another reason to support small businesses is you are helping support the economy in your own area. Small businesses need money to feed their families. When you buy from small businesses, you are helping your neighbors and people in your area take care of their families.
Do you want to learn more about becoming a GROWNebraska member? Click on link below:
Are you a GROWNebraska member and would like your product listings updated? Or, would you like to join GROWNebraska, and have questions?
To learn more about Andrea Kelley, visit her website: 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nebraska's Preferred Popcorn Makes "The Best Popcorn In The World"

15 years ago, when Bhavesh Shah was tasked with finding the best popcorn in the world for the Sathyam Theatre in Chennai, India, he had no idea that he'd soon be on a flight to Nebraska in the middle of winter. Preferred Popcorn in Chapman, Nebraska (a member of GROW Nebraska since 2007) showed Shah around their cooperative farming organization, and soon, Shah was convinced that Preferred Popcorn fit the bill. 

Since that day 15 years ago, Preferred Popcorn has been providing the popcorn that has become a staple in Sathyam Theatre's famous flavor-it-yourself popcorn. The high-yield, large kernels make the best theatre popcorn around. The personal touch makes it all the better. “What I love about working with them is how it’s not become a corporate set up. It has remained farmer-run where the CEO is himself on the tractor during planting season," said Shah.

Want the full story from Sathyam Theatre? Read More Here!

Do you want to try "The Best Popcorn In The World" ?
Order some now from >>

Learn more about Preferred Popcorn's partnership with GROW Nebraska >>

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It's a New Year! Treat yourself!

Start the new year off right with products from GROW Nebraska! Curl up with a good book, spruce up your home, or pamper yourself! Shop these wonderful Nebraska products and more at!

Happy self-care! And Happy New Year!

About the author: Heidi Garvin, GROW Nebraska's Training Services Coordinator, started at GROW Nebraska as an intern in 2009 and has been blessed to work with hundreds of members over the years in training, social media, eCommerce, and retail roles. Heidi holds a Bachelor of Journalism in Advertising from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and she is currently working on her MBA at the University of Nebraska - Omaha.
Heidi is passionate about serving and supporting Nebraska businesses, and she prides herself on trying as many Nebraska products and services as possible. You can follow her adventures in shopping, eating, and living local by following her on Instagram @TheNebraskaGoodLife.