Double D Family Mat Shop Thrives in Small Town

Double D's Non Slip Mats

Weather-resistant, Non-slip Double D Mats™ can be used inside or outside to provide sure footing and a quiet, firm, but resilient surface for livestock. Each tire tread woven into the mat is secured on both ends and fastened with stainless steel bolts in two places. Source: http://www.ddfamilymats.net/products/

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 this month’s featured business to the Love Small Town America blog: Double D Family Mat Shop, Inc.! 

This year, Double D Family Mat Shop celebrates 17 years in business with a brand new website and branding overhaul that show this time-tested family business is growing and thriving in the 21st century. After nearly twenty years in business, the company has learned a few secrets to success. Continue reading

Love Small Town America Team Grows!

Jenny Russell joins Love Small Town America along with her associate, Luke Mahin.

Thanks to the continued support and enthusiasm for what Love Small Town America has to offer, we have recently expanded our team. Jenny Russell and Luke Mahin of JenRus Freelance have joined the other six members of the Love Small Town America core group to bring a heightened focus to serving Love Small Town America’s members and helping more small towns join the network and access an affordable web presence.  Continue reading

Grainfield Kansas’ Historic Opera House Gets Modern Addition

The Grainfield Opera House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a stately and historic structure situated in the business district of Grainfield. At various points in its history it has held a private school, mercantile, hosted dances, and even been a car dealership. Now, it is home once more to musical performances and special events.

Lovingly restored by Grainfield, Kansas residents, the historic Grainfield opera house recently gained a new addition that promises to keep patrons happy for years to come.  Continue reading

Highlights of Jewell County, Kansas

The dock at beautiful Emerson Lake in Jewell County, Kansas.

With numerous annual events, abundant access to hunting and fishing and a population of just over 3,000, Jewell County offers a high amount of recreation per-capita. Located in North-central Kansas within a short distance of major highways,  Jewell County is populated by charming towns, including the county seat of Mankato, Jewell, Burr Oak, Esbon, and several others.

Continue reading

RedTire – Matching Businesses and Business Owners

RedTire is a new program from the KU School of Business that seeks to Redefine Retirement for business owners in rural Kansas communities.

At Love Small Town America, we consider ourselves matchmakers of a sort. We match businesses with employees via our job listings, we match potential citizens with new hometowns, and we match tourists with communities full of attractions that suit them to a tee. So, we were interested to learn of another matchmaking enterprise in our home state of Kansas.

When small town business owners age, they often shut the doors, taking with them the assets, experience, and wealth that business represented in the community. There are many reasons why this happens – but a lot of it comes down to basic economics – supply and demand. A new program called RedTire has been launched by the University of Kansas to offer one possible solution.

The RedTire program promotes their service as allowing business owners to redefine their retirement. The program matches rural business owners seeking an exit strategy with graduates from Kansas universities.

Candidates from both sides – businesses and potential successors – apply through the RedTire website or are referred to the program by third parties.

Ideally, the end result will be contract negotiations between successors and current owners to purchase existing businesses or make other arrangements to transition ownership.

The program is free and aims to help Kansas communities create transition opportunities to keep businesses alive and thriving. RedTire is new, so there aren’t any results to share, but there are an increasing number of attempts across the country to address this issue. We’ll be watching to see how RedTire progresses – so check back for an update!

We can’t help but think what an interesting complement this program – or something like it – provides for the Rural Opportunity Zone program. Theoretically, someone could move to a ROZ county, gaining access to tax credits and tuition reimbursement and possibly also create their own job by buying a business by engaging with RedTire – making the kinds of initiatives that are popping up across the state even more powerful. The future is taking shape before our eyes and there are definitely some interesting possibilities on the horizon.

What do you think? Is RedTire the kind of program that could make a difference?

Interested in applying?

RedTire Contact Information:

Wally Meyer
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
(785) 864-7583
wmeyerjr@ku.edu

Charlotte Tritch
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
(785) 864-7563
ctritch@ku.edu

Featured Organization: Grainfield’s American Legion A Place for Patriotism, Fun

A Flag waves 24/7 outside the Grainfield American Legion

A flag waves 24/7 outside the Grainfield Kansas American Legion. Image courtesy of social_d via Creative Commons License.

At the Grainfield, KS American Legion (George M. Scott Post 301), visitors can count on three things: food, fellowship, and fun. The American Legion’s webpage on Love Small Town America highlights the heritage of the local chapter.

Grainfield’s Legion Post in Grainfield, Kansas was named in honor of George M. Scott who died October 15, 1918 in France during the First World War. He was the first Gove County soldier to die in the war and is buried at the Gove Cemetery. The Legion was chartered in December of 1920 and currently has 64 members. This organization honors Veterans by providing a Color Guard at funerals and at Memorial Day Services.

Special events offer opportunities for community members to enjoy fellowship. On the last Wednesday of each  month, the American Legion hosts a Stag/Stagette supper. Bingo enthusiasts get their weekly fix each Sunday. A special Father’s Day Dinner celebrates dads. All events are listed on the Grainfield calendar and visitors are always welcome.

The American Legion building is a point of pride for the organization, known for being clean and well kept. It’s the perfect spot to host small town gatherings in Grainfield, where, in the words of American Legion representative Marvin Beougher, “Everybody knows everyone else. It’s very friendly.”

It’s worth a trip to Grainfield to visit the American Legion, where the flag flies outside 24/7 and visitors are always welcome in this friendly community.

Want the world to know about how great your group is? Businesses and organizations from participating Love Small Town America communities are eligible to be featured in an upcoming blog post. Get free publicity for your business, organization, or event as part of the Love Small Town America family. Contact us for more information! 

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!