Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Top 5 Reasons GROW Nebraska Should Be Everyone’s Headquarters for Tailgate Snacks!

I find myself humming the Nebraska Fight song as I’m thinking about this! “There is no place like Nebraska!” So true! Football season is synonymous with tailgates, game watching, get-togethers and FOOD! For some hard core snackers, tailgates and the food on them are even more important than watching the game! In our family, this kind of food falls into a category we call “snackage.” Could you love it? I mean, “snackage”, what a great word!

When deciding on what goodies you want to whip up for the next game, GROW Nebraska should be the first place you shop for all snackage needs! Here are five important reasons!
  1. The variety! You’ll find everything tailgate at either one of our retail stores, in Kearney or Grand Island! That means everything from appetizers to main courses, we’ve got you covered!
  2. Convenient hours! Our retail stores are open from 10-9 Monday through Saturday and from 12 to 6 on Sundays! Not long enough? How does 24/7/365 sound at
  3. Helpful Staff! Our staff is knowledgeable about every product on the shelf; who makes it, how to prepare it, what to serve it with and what items are most popular. (That last one is tough- they’re all great!)
  4. Who Knows Better What You Love to Eat? Made for Nebraskans by Nebraskans! Who knows more about how we eat and what we love to eat than our fellow Nebraskans? Hint: They’re not from California or New York!
  5. You Support Your Fellow Nebraskans! GROW Nebraska exists with one central purpose, to enhance the visibility and marketing of products from Nebraska. Every time you make a purchase at GROW, either online or in one of our stores, you are helping to support a small Nebraska business! Our members are true entrepreneurs and passionate about what they do! Keep your hard earned dollars in Nebraska and watch it work!
Stop by this week and check out our amazing variety of dips, pickles, salsa, soup and pancake mixes, wing sauces, popcorn, jerky, candy, honey, meat rubs, marinades and so much more! Don’t forget what great gifts food products make! Pick up a goodie to give your host and be sure to buy one for yourself!

That reminds me of one more line from the fight song! “Where they’re all true blue. We’ll all stick together in all kinds of weather for dear old Nebraska U!” Love our state? Support our entrepreneurs, shop for game day at GROW Nebraska!
About the Author: Betty Streff is the Coordinator of GROW Nebraska store in Kearney. You can read more about Betty here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

GROW Nebraska among recipients of $700,000 SBA Grant

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced seven awardees of $700,000 in new grant funding for continued projects to promote the development, success, and long-term survival of Native American firms eligible for assistance under the SBA’s 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program.

The SBA’s 7(j) Program helps provide specialized management and technical assistance to underserved markets and small business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The program emphasizes entrepreneurial education, counseling, and training resources to help these firms succeed in federal, state, and local government markets for goods and services, and also as subcontractors to government prime contractors.

In making the announcement, Assistant Administrator for SBA’s Native American Affairs David Sanborn said: “We’re excited to be able to help fund these organizations to engage with Native American entrepreneurs across the county and strengthen the SBA’s support network to provide more boots on the ground in local communities. This fiscal year was a great success and made it possible to help continue the support of small business job creation and growth for Native small business owners.”

These projects were initially funded for fiscal year 2016 and are being continued in fiscal year 2017, to help ensure the delivery of vital business development services, and management and technical assistance to Native American business communities across the country. Project funding for each of the seven $100,000 Native American Micro Enterprise Business Services grants is provided by the SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs.

The SBA grant program announcement for the second round of funding also sought unique and innovative proposals to provide specialized training, executive education, and tools to promote business development of Native American small businesses. The continued funding will help to address some of the challenges Native American firms and other 7(j) eligible firms face, including teaming with other businesses; mastering the process of federal contracting; and reversing declines and re-energizing small businesses.

Functional areas of assistance regularly include strategic and operational planning and management; marketing, business development, and identification and capture of opportunities; accounting, bookkeeping, and financial analysis; contract management and compliance; information technology and systems development; and industry-specific requirements.

The selected awardees, who also received grant funding for fiscal year 2016, have demonstrated substantive experience dealing with issues relating to Native American small businesses and have also demonstrated they have the capacity to provide a variety of management and technical assistance services to micro enterprise small businesses. These service providers will continue to assist the SBA’s Native American customers as they create jobs and develop economic opportunities to enhance the quality of life in their communities.

The seven grant awardees represent a range of diverse geographic tribal areas and industries. They will focus on helping to narrow the gap in business development services provided by the SBA to Native American firms.

Among those seven businesses, is GROW Nebraska, with a funding amount of $100,000! GROW Nebraska will work with partners, Lakota Hope and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension, to capitalize on the talents and interests of entrepreneurs on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and in the Whiteclay, Nebraska, area to create a group of entrepreneurs who work together and support each other as they build scalable small businesses that will generate a livable income for the business owner and his/her family, create jobs, and have a positive impact on Reservation residents. With this grant, GROW Nebraska, Lakota Hope and UNL Extension will create an innovative, entrepreneur-focused program that builds and supports a powerful business strategy for each participant involved in the program.

To learn more about assistance provided to Native American small businesses and SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs, please visit

GROW Nebraska members, Lakota Hope Center, is a ministry serving the Lakota Nation specifically the Risen Warriors (street people) of Whiteclay and Pine Ridge. Lakota Hope also reaches out in different ways to encourage and promote healthy, economically self-sufficient native individuals and families–helping artists and crafters to make a life-enhancing wage with traditional and contemporary items. Shop Lakota Crafter items on

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Meet Your New BFF! SHOLDIT Accessories Let's You Say, "Look Ma! No Hands!"

I was so tickled when I saw SHOLDIT accessories appear for sale in the GROW Nebraska store! What is SHOLDIT? Other than being a girl’s BFF, it’s a brand of solution-based accessories with built in pockets.

I was tickled for several reasons, I must add! I had the privilege of meeting creator, owner and “Chief Exploration Officer” Angela Lee in Omaha a few years ago on a real special occasion! Angela was graduating from a year-long leadership class and it was pretty clear to me that day she was a star student. Angela oozes enthusiasm and radiates a natural curiosity and zest for life that is unmistakable.

That very day, I bought my own pocketed infinity scarf by SHOLDIT (Angela just happened to have some along to sell, imagine that!) and it was love at first use! I’m simply not a purse girl. I run too fast and I need my hands free when I shop or I’m out buzzing around town! I put it on and Ta-da! I had every essential close at hand but safely tucked away in a securely zippered pocket! Roomy enough for my wallet, keys, sunglasses and cell phone. It’s not bulky and it’s fashionable, too, light years more hip than a fanny back (ewww)!

This summer I gave my basic black SHOLDIT scarf the acid test when I used it as my one and only purse on a trip to Iceland with my elderly mom. It was absolutely perfect for holding both of our passports and tickets, phone, credit card, cash, eye drops and a pill case. My trusty SHOLDIT scarf was by far the most used and appreciated item I brought on the trip!

Now, I’m tickled to see all the gorgeous colors, textures and patterns to choose from! They are perfect for ball games! Should I get the perfect kelly green for our grandkids’ sporting events? Or the yummy pumpkin colored one because everything that color just screams my name? So many choices, I can’t settle for owning only one! You’ll have a hard time deciding, too!

And, I am so tickled to share the inspiring story of this gutsy western Nebraska girl who marched out and bought a $20 sewing machine so she could begin stitching up prototypes of an idea that hatched in her entrepreneurial brain. Check out her wonderful website and read the incredible story about how SHOLDIT was born. Under her passionate leadership it has grown to become an internationally recognized company that has captured the attention of big names like Oprah, Good Morning America, Forbes and USA Today! Wow! It’s a truly feel-good story that makes us proud to be Nebraskans!

Angela became an enthusiastic member of GROW Nebraska because she believes in the work that GROW does every single day to promote and bring attention to all our amazing members. GROW’s sole mission is to enhance the efforts of small Nebraska businesses and the entrepreneurs like her who bring the businesses to life!

You can find the SHOLDIT accessory that’s perfect for you in both GROW Nebraska stores, at the Hilltop Mall in Kearney and the Conestoga Mall in Grand Island! Or, you can play “eenie meenie miney mo” online and pick one (or two or three!) anytime 24/7/365 at! They also offer new designs including a pocketed nursing cover up for new moms and a pocketed neck-warming gaiter, ideal for the hard working outdoor guy or gal. Here’s a word to the wise! Think ahead, “Santa Claus”, these will bring a smile to the face of any gal on your gift list!

About the Author: Betty Streff is the Coordinator of GROW Nebraska store in Kearney. You can read more about Betty here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sunshine for the Sunflowers brings Simply Sunflower

I’ve said it before but the best part of my job at GROW Nebraska is definitely that I get to be the story catcher! Last week I had the opportunity to visit with Alan Koelling from Simply Sunflower. I called him at his home near Ord, NE. I could practically feel the sunshine coming through the phone lines! Alan is a shining example of yet another GROW Nebraska member who is brimming with joy and passion for the work they do. I must say talking to folks like Alan is invigorating because their enthusiasm is contagious!

Alan proudly told me that he is a fourth generation farmer and rancher in an area south of Ord known as Mira Valley. I was curious enough to Google it and I can certainly understand why he is delighted to be a part of a place that has such a rich historical significance. One article even mentioned it was once explored by Lewis and Clark! One thing is for sure, the land is perfect for growing sunflowers. I can’t think of a more cheerful looking crop, can you?

Alan is also proud of how completely “Nebraska” his product is, right down to the last detail. Simply Sunflower Oil comes from sunflower seeds grown on his Nebraska farms. The seeds are then pressed to extrude the natural oil in a Nebraska plant exclusively dedicated to processing Simply Sunflower oil.

Simply Sunflower All Natural Oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils on the market. It is chemical and GMO free, and it has 41% vitamin E! Do jump on their beautiful website to learn so much more about the golden health benefits of their light tasting oil!

One fun aspect of their website is their weekly blog that shares farm updates, recipes, health benefits, and more interesting facts about sunflowers. Be sure to take a look at Simply Sunflower’s fascinating and sunny blog posts, I enjoy them and I know you will too!

Simply Sunflower is another success story in the sweeping movement of consumers who want to know where the food on their table is produced! Part of their success has been their decision to join GROW Nebraska in 2012. You can find Simply Sunflower All Natural Oil at the Nebraska State Fair and when you need more, you can buy another bottle (or two!) in either of GROW Nebraska’s stores, at the Hilltop Mall in Kearney or the Conestoga Mall in Grand Island! And if that’s not handy, you can jump online anytime 24/7/365 and order some today at!
About the Author: Betty Streff is the Coordinator of GROW Nebraska store in Kearney. You can read more about Betty here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Great Plains Honey Farms on the Path to Sweet Success

I had a nice chat about honey this week with Rhoda Shurigar. Rhoda and Mike Lagsding are business partners in Great Plains Honey Farms in Grand Island, Nebraska. Not just business partners, they’re a couple and you can tell they are sweet on each other! Mike, a lifelong resident of Grand Island, attended a workshop on beekeeping through the University of Nebraska because he was curious about how to build beehives. His interest grew quickly and it soon became clear that he had developed a love and fascination for honey bees. In 2010 Mike started Great Plains Honey Farms and in 2013, Rhoda joined him as a partner.

Rhoda and Mike both have health issues which make using honey as a sweetener a far healthier alternative than sugar. They’ve become a “product of their product” and they’re happy to share all the many benefits of honey with anyone who has questions! Rhoda whole heartedly believes honey is a tasty, effective and natural way to help combat seasonal allergies since it contains small amounts of the pollen that the bees ingest. You’ll find lots more about honey on their new website and you can keep up with all their latest buzzings on their Facebook page too!

Rhoda has fallen in love with bees herself and is never happier than when she is in the bee field. Their hives are thoughtfully placed near areas abundant with clover, alfalfa and wild flowers and kept away from corn and other crops that could have been treated with chemicals. Their honey is never treated with pesticides, it is simply filtered and never heat processed or so it retains all its wonderful therapeutic qualities at peak levels. And talk about a wide range of container sizes! The sweet amber honey is available in sizes from an adorable baby 2 ounce size bear up to a half gallon jug!

Rhoda says her favorite way to eat honey in on a peanut butter and honey sandwich and that sounds terrific, doesn’t it? Rhoda and Mike will be showing with GROW Nebraska at the Nebraska State Fair and will be sampling their wonderful product. Great Plains Honey Farms became proud members of GROW Nebraska this year and we think their story is going to be a sweet success!

If you can’t get to the State Fair, we’ll miss you but you can find Great Plains Honey in both GROW Nebraska stores, at the Hilltop Mall in Kearney and the Conestoga Mall in Grand Island! Or, here is some sweet news! You can jump online anytime 24/7/365 and order some today at!

About the Author: Betty Streff is the Coordinator of GROW Nebraska store in Kearney. You can read more about Betty here.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pacha Soap of Hastings honored for economic development achievement

Pacha Soap Co. of Hastings is one of three Central Nebraska businesses awarded the 2016 3rd District Excellence in Economic Development Award by Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.

Smith was in Hastings Thursday to present Andrew and Abi Vrbas, owners of Pacha Soap, the award.

Along with Pacha Soap, 24 Hour Tees in Kearney and Shanti Yoga of Kearney and Loup City were also honored with the award.

Read the full article here: Pacha Soap of Hastings Honored

Pacha Soap is a proud member of GROW Nebraska. You can shop for their great products online at!

Promoting Lakota Businesses at the Oglala Nation Pow-Wow

Grow Nebraska partnered with Lakota Hope Ministry this month during the 31st Oglala Nation Pow-Wow on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Lakota Hope ran a booth in the inner circle around the arena. The booth was part of Lakota Hope’s program Grow2Gather an initiative to help artists build better businesses by connecting artists with new markets and teaching new business skills.

The booth housed over a dozen artists over the course of the four-day event. Artists presented a wide variety of products, ranging from beadwork and quill-work to watercolor paintings, and from traditional parfleche leatherwork to hand-painted vases. The purpose of the booth was to expose artists to a new, larger audience, and to boost artist’s sales.

The Pow-wow exceeded expectations! The artists made many new connections with people who came from all over the country to attend the Pow-wow. Artists exchanged information with visitors, and some talked with visitors about making custom pieces. A woman from the Ute Indian Museum in Montrose, Colorado bought pieces from several of our artists to display in the museum giving ongoing exposure to the artists in the Grow2Gather program.

Artists made great sales at the Pow-wow. Nearly five thousand dollars in sales were generated in the course of the four-day event. A credit card reader located at the information booth helped artists sell to customers who were not carrying cash making many large transactions possible. Free water, fans and Tanka sticks (made locally from buffalo meat) added an additional draw. Artists felt encouraged by the big boost to their businesses. Our artists began talking to one another about other big events, events they could do together in the future. Wilma Thin Elk, a Lakota artist and elder, expressed her eagerness for the next Grow2Gather meeting saying “We need to have more of these!”

Want to see some of the Artists' work? You can browse through some of the Lakota Crafters' products online anytime at!