SourceLink Nebraska’s First Year Brings Hundreds of Companies and Resources Together | Business Development Center of Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska – Since launching its welcome mat a year ago, SourceLink Nebraska has connected entrepreneurs, business aspirants and business owners with specific resources to help them build and grow their businesses and has expanded its impact by bringing skilled “network navigators” to the community increase accessibility.

Scott Asmus, SourceLink Nebraska Director of Programs, says that from mid-November 2021 through November 2022, 152 startups and existing business owners came to SourceLink Nebraska for customized assistance across a range of areas, resulting in 1,761 interactions with SourceLink Nebraska’s network navigators, the staff, led members who are trained to guide clients to the resources that best meet their needs.

In addition, the network navigators created 127 Personal Action Plans, which are customized resource connection plans specifically targeted at each customer, resulting in 1,146 direct referrals to resource partners in the Nebraska Network. According to Asmus, business planning assistance — such as writing or reviewing a business plan, conducting market research, or preparing financial forecasts — was the service most recommended by network navigators, followed by requests for loans and start-up help.

SourceLink Nebraska is a nationwide platform that connects entrepreneurs and business owners with resources to help start, scale or accelerate businesses. The program is hosted by the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC).

“The SourceLink Nebraska team provides clear access to resources and personal support,” says Asmus. “These interactions with SourceLink Nebraska and our resource partners ultimately serve as a support system that will continue to help people start and grow their businesses.”

SourceLink Nebraska launched its website, sourcelinknebraska.com, on November 16, 2021. The website, which serves as an infrastructure for business development resources, has grown and features nearly 950 resource partner profiles, as well as startup guides, growth guides, capital guides and a link to a video library for entrepreneurs and business owners. Additional resources include event listings for entrepreneurs and business owners across the state. To date, the site has garnered more than 143,700 online recommendations, Asmus says.

According to NBDC executive director Catherine Lang, Nebraska has a robust economic and business development ecosystem with partners providing essential services to entrepreneurs and business owners. “The challenge is finding the right resources at the right time,” says Lang. “SourceLink Nebraska provides easy access to these resources in one platform.”

Though similar to rural and urban resource platforms in other states, Lang says SourceLink Nebraska is one of the more complete and innovative networks, thanks in large part to Asmus’ SourceLink Nebraska team and Network Navigators Brandi O’Malley and Alan Martinez .

SourceLink Nebraska benefits from the financial support and partnership of the Omaha Public Power District, Peter Kiewit Foundation, University of Nebraska System, University Technology Development Corporation, University of Nebraska Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nebraska Extension, NBDC and the Economic Development Authority (EDA). “I want to thank our supporters and partners across our state who are working with us to make SourceLink Nebraska the connector of choice for entrepreneurs and business owners,” says Lang.

Most recently, SourceLink Nebraska has partnered with Heartland Workforce Solutions to extend its reach directly to entrepreneurs and small businesses in North and South Omaha. Each Wednesday, O’Malley and Martinez welcome entrepreneurs and small business owners for one-on-one meetings to develop personalized action plans. O’Malley hosts the meetings at Seventy Five North, 2112 North 30th Street; while Martinez is meeting with interested individuals at Metropolitan Community College South Express, 3002 South 24th Street.

According to O’Malley, the process begins with filling out a short-form personalized action plan request that outlines basic information about the company or proposal, including the stage of development and the company’s location.

“We look at the information they’ve submitted and put together a list of resources based on the specific things they say they need help with,” she says. “It becomes a tailored strategy for them and can range from writing a business plan to marketing to securing financial support and grants.”

After delivering the personalized action plan to the client, O’Malley and Martinez follow up with emails and phone calls to review progress or additional needs.

With a background in people development and human resources, O’Malley says her work as a network navigator is a fulfilling opportunity to drive economic growth and help people achieve their dreams of owning a business. “I know from experience how important small businesses are to Nebraska,” she says. “When I meet someone through SourceLink Nebraska who says they’ve hit a hurdle, I like to say, ‘I can connect you to resources that can help you,'” she says.

According to Asmus, many SourceLink Nebraska users have expressed their gratitude for the connections they have made. one wrote: “The resources and nonprofit organizations available to small businesses are richer than I ever imagined. The folks at SourceLink Nebraska have been a tremendous help to me and are happy to continue to do so.”

According to Lang, the growing number of direct and online recommendations demonstrates the valuable, unique service SourceLink Nebraska offers to entrepreneurs and business aspirants across the state and those outside of Nebraska who are considering starting a business here or expanding into the state .

“By enabling these connections, we support the success of today and tomorrow,” says Lang. “Strong economies breed strong communities, and SourceLink Nebraska is another example of what makes our state a great place to do business.”

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