LSTA.com releases eye-catching new website features!

LSTA.com homepage

Vivid background photos, an eye-catching header image, and custom font choices for the page title give LSTA members even more ways to draw in visitors and display their community’s unique personality.

LoveSmallTownAmerica.com proudly introduces exciting new features to add an additional level of personalization and flair to community websites.Community webpages now include an eye-catching header image and premium level members have additional custom options designed to make a bold impression on visitors. Continue reading

Learn About Farm Safety

logo_farmsafety

Farm Safety Just for Kids is a non-profit dedicated to promoting a safe farm environment to prevent health hazards, injuries, and fatalities to children and youth. The Kansas outreach coordinator, Kali Roberts, is looking for communities who are interested in scheduling a free presentation.

Kali works with communities to facilitate farm safety presentations to local youth and their families at events and meetings and she is available to set up presentations during the summer and fall.

Presentations are free of cost. Typical events where Kali makes presentations: county fairs, preschool/church classrooms, 4-H groups, town festivals, co-op producer safety meetings. Most activities are geared toward elementary school children.

If you are interested in coordinating a free farm safety presentation, contact Kali here:
Kali Roberts
785-393-3227
kalir@ksu.edu
farmsafetyforjustkids.org

What’s in a Name…

JanSport’s “Grainfield” messenger bag is a wink at founder Skip Yowell’s small town roots.

This fall, why not show your small town pride by strapping a Grainfield bag to your back? JanSport co-founder Skip Yowell pays homage to his hometown of Grainfield, KS with the name of this stylish and practical messenger bag.

The rugged good looks and all-around utilitarianism of this line of bags named after frontier destinations from Grainfield to Fort Hays to Estes Park make them a great way to tote your gear in style. We love the iPad sleeve and laptop compartment on the Grainfield bag. Why not carry the Grainfield messenger bag on your next vacation through small town America?

Read more about notable Grainfield “alum” Skip Yowell in this story.

We’re Hiring! Join our Team

You’re passionate about small towns – friendly neighbors, community pride, an entrepreneurial spirit. You live in or near northwest Kansas. You’d love a part-time job with a flexible schedule. You drive yourself to meet goals, find creative ways to engage with people, and are a friendly go-getter. Does this sound like you? We’re accepting applications for a contract sales associate to bring communities, businesses, organizations, and schools online as members of Love Small Town America. You’ll be a part of a dynamic team collaborating across the country, have access to professional quality sales and marketing materials, and work with qualified leads and have the flexibility to prospect for your own. This position is half commission-based, so you control the amount of opportunity this provides. Day travel within the area is required but we’ll work out the details with the right candidate. What we’re most interested in is finding the right person to join our team.

Title: Sales Associate
Department: Contract Sales Division – Western Kansas
Reports to: VP of Sales – Grainfield, Kansas

Love Small Town America (http://www.lovesmalltownamerica.com/) seeks highly motivated part-time outbound sales associate based in Kansas to cultivate relationships with small towns and bring them on as customers. The ideal candidate will be able to work a flexible, remote schedule be passionate about small towns, and be a dynamic, friendly face for the company.

Job Objective: 
Responsible for sales activities, from lead generation through close in assigned territory. Develops and implements agreed upon sales plan to cultivate qualified leads, make presentations, close sales, and facilitate customer satisfaction and growth-oriented relationships.

Responsibilities:
– Responsible for the sales of Love Small Town America online representation to towns and counties, and their businesses, community organizations, schools, etc.
– Demonstrates effective communication skills and product knowledge that allows sales associate to give effective in-person and virtual presentations of Love Small Town America’s services.
– Calls on qualified leads and sets up presentations.
– Understanding of pricing models, including Shared Success program.
– Demonstrates the ability to carry on professional conversations with business owners and decision makers.
– Assists in the implementation of company marketing plans as needed.
– Assists in creation of effective sales proposal presentations.
– Assists in development of client relationships and referrals.
– Maintains accurate records of all sales and prospecting activities in the company system.

Job Specifications:
– Ideal candidate will be from a small town or currently live in a small town and demonstrate an understanding of small town dynamics.
– Willingness to travel and collaborate with a remote team of professionals.
– Technology literate with 24/7 access to high speed internet and a personal computer.
– Knowledge of economic development a plus.
– Commitment to helping small towns to prosper.
– Outgoing, highly self-motivated, goal-oriented personality essential to success.

Love Small Town America offers a creative, dynamic work environment committed to building a better future for America by bringing small towns and small town businesses and organizations online.

Deadline:
Send your resume and qualifications to Dan Godek, VP of Sales, at Dan@LoveSmallTownAmerica.com by August 7. This position is open until filled with rolling review after that.

About Love Small Town America
Love Small Town America is building a brighter future for small communities across the country. We are dedicated to preserving small town values while competing in a high tech world. We offer small towns and their businesses, organizations, and schools a professional web presence in a nationwide network.

Love Small Town America is a comprehensive website that catalogs and publicizes small town businesses, events, real-estate, and more, serving residents and reaching a vast online audience with the kinds of details they want to know about.

Along with a listing on the website, member towns and businesses receive a professionally designed and maintained webpage and promotional services. When you join Love Small Town America, you get more than a website: you join a network. For a low annual fee, small towns, businesses, organizations, and schools receive a dynamic presence on the web that shares their true personality with the world and they tap into a powerful nationwide network dedicated to helping one another prosper. Love Small Town America. Discover what’s waiting for you. 

Love Small Town America – Weekend Edition (5/18-5/20/2012)

What’s going on in small town America this weekend? We’ve pulled a few events from our handy community event calendar so you can see what’s going on this weekend in your great small town – or one a few miles down the round.

Friday May 18

Happy Hour at Mainstreet Dugout (Grainfield, KS)

Start your weekend right! Bring in your Mainstreet Dugout refillable cup from 2:00-4:00 PM and get a refill for only $1 plus tax.

 

Friday May 18-Sunday May 20

Paint Sale at Grinnell Farm and Home (Grinnell, KS)

Dig a discount on a DIY weekend with a coupon for 10% off paint at Grinnell Farm and Home. The limit is 5 gallons – so you’ll still have time to relax once you get a coat on the walls!

 

Saturday May 19

Annual Spring Cleanup (Quinter, KS)

 

Sunday May 20

2-Man Scramble (Quinter, KS)

It’s a perfect day to spend on the greens at the 2-Man Scramble starting at 1 PM at the Quinter Golf Course.

 

Sunday May 20

Baseball and Softball Practices (Grainfield, KS)

Head out to Beougher Ball Field from 3:00-5:00 PM for a leisurely afternoon watching America’s pastime.

 

Sunday May 20

Bingo (Grainfield, KS)

Round out your weekend with bingo at Grainfield’s American Legion, beginning at 7:00 PM.

How will you show your small town love this weekend? Share your plans with us!

Don’t see the destination you had in mind? We are always growing our network of small towns, organizations, and businesses. If you’re interested in joining Love Small Town America and getting an affordable home on our small town network, e-mail us to get started or learn more here

 

Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Even in a small town, life has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes. Some of you may already be prepared to shower the moms in your life with a day of special treatment, but for those of you who are just realizing that Sunday (May 13) is Mother’s Day, we’ve gathered a few suggestions that may make your last minute shopping a little less hectic.

1.) Give Mom the Night Off with Harvest Market
Women deserve to be pampered, but sometimes a thoughtful gift that will help ease the burden of a busy life can be just as nice – and even more appreciated! If your wife or mom is always busy caring for others – shuttling the family to sports practice, helping out with community events, and still juggling a household – she’ll appreciate a night off. Stop at Harvest Market in Grainfield and pick up the fixings for a family cooked meal – that you prepare. Not a cook? That’s ok – Harvest Market has party platters and barbecue (read more about Harvest Market) ready to go. While you’re there, snap up a bottle of luxurious body wash or scented soap and let mom take a soak while you round up dinner.

2. Give Mom’s Room a New Look with Grinnell Farm and Home Center
Is there a room in the house that needs a little extra love? Moms often leave themselves to last, so her bedroom might be able to use a little pick-me-up. Grinnell Farm and Home Center in Grinnell, KS is the perfect place to pick up a few remodeling essentials to help transform mom’s bedroom into a relaxing retreat. Through May 31, 2012 use their Love Small Town America coupon to receive 10% off a single purchase of paint up to 5 gallons. Add in a few brushes, rollers,  painter’s tape, and your helping hands to make this gift one mom will remember.

3. Make a Major Home Upgrade with J&J Carpet
Gifts can be practical as well as pretty! Who doesn’t love the sight of gleaming wood floors or beautiful stone tile? Mother’s Day might be the perfect reason to splurge on a home upgrade that will make mom smile long after Sunday. While you’re painting her bedroom, why not think about installing new flooring as well? Whether the whole house is overdue for new carpet, or she has a special spot in mind, J&J Carpet has what you need.

4. Surprise Mom with Special Specs from Kinderknecht Eye Care
Some things are cliches for a reason. Women love accessories and there’s no better time to upgrade eyewear than just in time to get a new look for long summer days. Old prescriptions just won’t do with sports games to watch, flowers to view, and sunsets to admire. New frames or sunglasses will keep mom’s eyes in style. Bring her to Kinderknecht Eye Care to pick out a new pair of frames. Their professional staff will help with all your questions and their great selection will satisfy even the pickiest mom.

5. Time from Little Hoot’s Daycare
Mom loves her kids, but sometimes she would love if she had a second to take a nap, get a manicure, or run some errands. Give the most precious gift of all – TIME – by arranging for mom to get some of it to herself. Little Hoot’s Daycare in Grinnell, Kansas can help with short or long-term solutions ranging from drop-in or after school daycare to full-time. Nutritious snacks and educational activities for the youngsters will help mom to breathe easy and enjoy her time to herself knowing her children are in good hands.

We hope one of these ideas sparks your imagination. Share your Mother’s Day plans and photos with us on our facebook page

Moms – which of these gifts would you like best? Leave a comment with your favorite!

 

Featured Business: Harvest Market

Owner Dan Godek knows the community of Gove County comes together at Harvest Market.

Love Small Town America is the online home for some of small town America’s best businesses. We’re giving them a chance to share with the world just what makes them so special. Please welcome our very first featured business to the Love Small Town America blog: Harvest Market

Where can you find delicious BBQ meats, household essentials, and a dead rat all in one, convenient location? Residents of Grainfield, Kansas know that Harvest Market is the place to find all of these things – and more!

At Harvest Market, household essentials line the shelves alongside quirky surprises.

Grocery stores are often the heart of small towns, where citizens gather to share the latest news and pick up a loaf of bread. Grainfield finds this in Harvest Market – and a little extra.

Harvest Market has been in operation in Grainfield in some form or another since the late 1920s. Current owners Dan and Nicole Godek have updated the market with energy-efficient equipment and expanded product lines, keeping Harvest Market a viable part of the small town economy while respecting its historic tradition of serving the people of Gove County, KS.

The family-owned store has imbued Harvest Market with a lively spirit that draws in customers from all over the area. Slogans like, “Eggs, Tomatoes, Toilet Paper… Everything You Need to Decorate Your Favorite Neighbor’s House,” and “We Get Up in Your Grill,” are proof that grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore.

Shopping trips become lively excursions at Harvest Market with a little help from the local "wildlife".

Although Harvest Market does have eggs, tomatoes, and toilet paper (and produce, dairy, party trays, beauty products, beer, tobacco, and more), it’s their mouthwatering array of Harvest Market Brand BBQ meats that promises to make summertime special in Kansas. The sight of pulled pork, beef brisket, and BBQ beef fresh from the heartland have wrecked more than one carefully planned dinner menu, but we have a feeling no one is complaining.

Harvest Market brand BBQ draws customers from all around.

Owner Dan Godek draws inspiration from his own children (or maybe from his childlike zest for life!) and makes a shopping excursion to Harvest Market fun for all ages. A big gnome, little gnome, dead hand, and toy rat wander mysteriously about the store every day just waiting to be found. If searching for a toy rat doesn’t sound like your kind of fun, a carnival mirror is an oracle of truth that could provide the answer to whether you should place that candy bar or that bunch of bananas in your shopping cart.

Looking for a great deal?

Coupons rotate frequently at Harvest Market, so check back soon.

Harvest Market rotates coupons on their Love Small Town America site, so check back regularly for updated promotions. Through May 31, 2012, they are offering a bargain on sunflower seeds – perfect for enjoying outside as the weather warms up.

BIGS Sunflower Seeds are on special at Harvest Market this May.

What Does Harvest Market Love About Small Towns?

They’re quiet, peaceful, affordable, friendly, safe, vibrant, caring, and conservative.

What Does Harvest Market Like Best About Love Small Town America?

Harvest Market calls Love Small Town America their home on the web. But it’s more than just good business sense – it’s about good.

“The fact that Love Small Town America is doing good. It’s helping small towns. It’s helping small town businesses. It’s going to give back to its communities through scholarship and grant programs.”

Harvest Market will be giving back to the community themselves, as a sponsor of the 4th annual Cruise, Shoes, and BBQs fundraiser this Memorial Weekend. With food, beer, and fun, it’s a natural fit for Harvest Market.

Harvest Market's friendly grocery aisle gnome.

Do you shop at Harvest Market? Have you ever found the toy rat or tried Harvest Market BBQ? Let us know in the comments! 

ROZ Scholarship Applications Announced

You know how passionate we are about small town survival – and about the Rural Opportunity Zones program as a great way to recruit new residents to participating Kansas counties. That’s why we are so excited that the ROZ Scholarship Application is now open. We’ve been working with the Kansas Department of Commerce for some time now, and they agree that Love Small Town America gives small counties and towns the right kind of web presence. They have decided to offer scholarships to Kansas ROZ counties or towns within those counties to cover the cost of a 1-year membership on Love Small Town America. Can you believe that? Lucky ROZ applicants could receive a FREE webpage on LSTA as part of our network for a whole year. That is phenomenal!

This kind of support from state government is what makes us so proud to be from Kansas. We hope all the ROZ counties will feel the same and want to take advantage of the chance to join our network.

In the meantime, we put together a page on our site to help explain what the scholarship covers (and what it doesn’t), why you shouldn’t wait to turn in your application, and what the next steps are.

As always, we’re available to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

We’re so excited to realize that sometime this summer (fingers crossed) we’ll be joining a BUNCH of new communities to our growing family on the web. This means lots more exciting developments ahead, so watch our facebook page and twitter feed for the latest breaking news.

Links:

ROZ Webpage Scholarships

Joining Love Small Town America

Rural Opportunity Zones (KS Department of Commerce)

 

Possible Funding Sources for Schools, Groups, Others – Spring 2012 Deadlines

Funding is an issue that everyone struggles with – whether you are a small business, an entrepreneur just diving into your first startup, or whether you operate a non-profit organization or project. Small businesses, organizations, and schools are some of the primary groups we support on Love Small Town America.

The Kansas Association of Community Foundations compiled this excellent list of current funding opportunities that we knew you would find useful. Many of these opportunities are for grants and scholarships, so they are worth checking into! Thanks to our friends at the Kansas Association of Community Foundations for sharing and for allowing us to pass this on to you. Most of the deadlines for these opportunities fall in the next few weeks, so move quickly on those applications!

The Department of Justice is offering funds to nonprofits, public agencies, states, Indian Tribes, and local governments for projects designed to address and prevent sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking in rural areas.  Deadline:  3/29/2012.  To apply, click here.

AARP Foundation has announced the Women’s Scholarship Program Call for Applicants.  The program provides funds to low-income women age 50 and older who are seeking new job skills, training and educational opportunities to support themselves and their families.  Deadline:  3/30/2012.  To learn more about this opportunity, click here.

HUD has announced the availability of grants for nonprofits to transform neighborhoods by investing in a wide array of infrastructure and other redevelopment activities.  Both planning grants and implementation grants are available from the Choice Neighborhood Initiative.  Deadline to apply:  4/10/2012.  To learn more about these grants and apply, click here.

 

US EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants.  The US EPA is soliciting proposals from eligible entities, including non-profit organizations, to deliver environmental workforce development and job training programs that recruit, train, and place local, unemployed and under-employed residents with the skills needed to secure full-time employment in the environmental field, with a focus on solid and hazardous waste remediation, environmental health and safety, and wastewater-related training.

The total funding available under this competitive opportunity is approximately $2,800,000, subject to availability of funds, quality of proposals received, and other applicable considerations. EPA anticipates awarding approximately 14 environmental workforce development and job training cooperative agreements from this competitive opportunity.  Proposals are due by April 12, 2012.  For more details see: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/docs/grants/epa-oswer-oblr-12-03.pdf

Wells Fargo NEXT Awards for Opportunity Finance! With a theme of expanding CDFI coverage to underserved communities, the NEXT Awards celebrate our industry—its creativity, accomplishments, and enduring importance—by awarding high performing CDFIs with attractive grants and loan capital.  Aligned with the new theme, the program features new awards:

The NEXT Opportunity Award recognizes up to four CDFIs with compelling strategies for expanding product and geographic coverage that are ready to execute within six months of receiving an award. The total pool of $8.25 million includes $7.5 million in low-cost, long-term debt and $750,000 in unrestricted grant funding.

The NEXT Seed Capital Award offers a $100,000 unrestricted grant to a single CDFI with a promising idea for expanding geographic or product coverage that is still in development. The expansion strategy should be on track to implement within eighteen months of receiving an award.

In addition to continuing generous support from Wells Fargo and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Kresge Foundation is a major new partner.  The final deadline to submit an application is 5:00 PM EST on April 17, 2012.  Application guidelines, applications, and more information can be found at the new Wells Fargo NEXT Awards Web site.

The Department of Labor is offering grants to nonprofit and public agencies to improve the employability of young adult ex-offenders by providing skills training.  Deadline:  4/17/2012.  To learn more about this program, click here.

The Retirement Research Foundation is accepting applications from nonprofits for projects in aging designed to improve quality of life for older Americans.  Deadline:  5/1/2012.  Applicants are encouraged to discuss projects in advance of submitting a full proposal by calling (773) 714-8030 or emailing info@rrf.org.  For more information, click here.

State Farm Insurance Companies is offering funds for student-led service-learning projects that address environmental responsibility, community safety and natural disaster preparedness, financial literacy, access to higher education, or social health and wellness.  Deadline:  5/4/2012.  For eligibility and to apply, click here.

Mini Grant Program
Application deadline is July 15, 2012
 Mini-grants to rural schools. From National Rural Education Association

Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act Grants – Application deadline: Mar 29, 2012. Funding to prevent and reduce alcohol use among youth in communities throughout the United States.

Self Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) – Application deadline: Apr 30, 2012
Funding to be used to facilitate and encourage innovative homeownership opportunities.

American Legion Foundation Child Welfare Grants – Application deadline: Jul 15, 2012. Grants to benefit the children of America. 

Open Meadows Foundation – Application deadline: Aug 15, 2012. Grants for projects that are led by and benefit women and girls, particularly those from vulnerable communities.

Guaranteed Loans Under the Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Rental Housing Program (GRRHP) – Application deadline: Dec 30, 2012
Grants to increase the supply of affordable rural rental housing through the use of loan guarantees that encourage partnerships between the Agency, private lenders, and public agencies.

Libri Books for Children Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Donates new, quality, hardcover children’s books for small, rural public libraries in the United States.

Rural and Low-Income School Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Formula grants to State educational agencies (SEAs), which in turn award subgrants to eligible LEAs either competitively or on a formula basis.

Rural Transit Assistance Programs (RTAP) – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Funding for training, technical assistance, and other support services for rural transit operators.

SBA Certified Development Company (504) Loan Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.
Provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land and buildings.

USDA Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program – Application deadline: Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

Funding to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities for health care, public safety, and public services in rural areas.

Kansas Association of Community Foundations

Have you ever applied for a grant to fund your project, organization, or business? We’d love to know if any of these are helpful to you. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Startup Act – An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

Many of you may have heard of the Startup Act – Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Mark Warner’s bipartisan bill designed to jumpstart the economy by instituting five measures that would help increase entrepreneurial activity in various realms. As fellow Kansans and supporters of entrepreneurship, we recently responded when Senator Moran requested letters of support. Entrepreneurship has a *true* trickle down effect that benefits communities and we are living proof of that. We’d like to share with you the letter we sent to Senator Moran:

Dear Senator Moran,

My name is Nicole Godek. When I made the choice to leave corporate careers in graphic design to move home to my native small town of Grainfield, Kansas, I chose to do so for two reasons: 1.) The advantages of small town life; 2.) The means to establish a business that not only allows me the chance to earn a living for my family doing what I do best, but gives me the chance to make a difference. At the heart of it, entrepreneurship is personally satisfying and socially beneficial so when I go to work each morning on making Love Small Town America Inc., (www.lovesmalltownamerica.com) I am also working hard to add benefit to my community and giving it a legacy I can be proud to pass on to my children.

With Love Small Town America , I’ve used my graphic design skills to build a website that serves as a network to promote and catalog small towns and their resources. It serves as an important communication tool for small towns and their businesses – most of whom are locally-owned by entrepreneurs. It may not be easy for a metropolis to see the difference, but when I walk down main street in any small town across America, I see the difference a single entrepreneur can make and the hole they’d leave if they weren’t open for business. I also see the tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to grow if given more support and resources, and the ripple effect this has in individual lives, communities, and economies.

Love Small Town America accomplishes three primary things; it provides a cost-effective, controllable way for communities to catalog and publicize their businesses, events, real estate, and more, it helps advertise what resources the community already has, and it helps advertise what assets the community would like to attract. Whether you are fleeing the city like I did and are looking for an available property in a community that suits your lifestyle, or are ready to open a new business in a town that needs your skills, Love Small Town America is able to help.

A lot of small towns have experienced a big surge of people leaving, but Love Small Town America is a place where people can go who want to escape from some of the plights of urban living and have the chance to follow their dreams.

I support the StartUp America Act and what it means for entrepreneurs – and future entrepreneurs – everywhere. My business makes a difference and provides needed services at a competitive price and I know others will as well. Entrepreneurship is good for me, good for my community, and good for America.

Sincerely,

Nicole Godek

CEO of Love Small Town America, Inc.”

 

If you agree, like we do, that taking concrete steps based in solid research to encourage entrepreneurial activity, you can share your opinions as well. Whether through the Startup Act or through other means, it is our duty to request our lawmakers enact policies that facilitate entrepreneurial growth. It’s time to stop stealing big companies from one another in expensive economic development ploys and to grow our own. That’s the way we grow jobs and generate net growth in the economy.

We’d love to hear what you think, though. Are we on the right path – or just plain crazy? Entrepreneurship is having a hey-day at the moment, and we think it’s about time. Is entrepreneurship a buzzword or is this the way to build a stronger America? Let us know in the comments.