Latino women in Nebraska can get business loans up to $150,000, one-on-one tech assistance, and classroom opportunities to learn about management concepts.

COLUMBUS - Registration is open for the first Empowerment for Latino Women in Business Conference, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs and the Small Business Administration.

Anna Pratt, women's business director at the Center for Rural Affairs, says it's the first conference designed for Latino entrepreneurs and small business owners in Nebraska to be presented in Spanish.

Pratt says the goal is to provide women in the state an opportunity to share their stories, learn more about available services and resources, and build relationships with other entrepreneurs.

"There's a growing interest and a growing need for people to not only have the resources to be successful in small business, but also to be inspired to be an entrepreneur and to start the businesses that they've always dreamed about," she states.

Pratt notes people new to Nebraska interested in starting their own business are frequently not familiar with how things such as zoning, employment law, tax codes and accounting practices can impact daily operations.

Businesses that don't keep track of their cash flow, for example, find it difficult to qualify for traditional bank loans.

Conference sessions will focus on strategic planning, business management and marketing. Latino women business owners also will share challenges they've faced and success stories.

The conference also will introduce folks to existing support services provided by the Center for Rural Affairs, including business loans up to $150,000, one-on-one tech assistance setting up Quickbooks, and classroom opportunities to learn about management concepts, how to create a business plan, and online marketing strategies.

Pratt says in today's marketplace, more and more people look online for products or services before making a trip to the store.

"We need to help small business owners understand where they get their biggest bang for their buck in online marketing," she states. "That is a new landscape for so many business owners."

Pratt says by creating a forum to meet the needs of the traditionally underserved Latino women population, and removing language as a barrier to learning, she believes entire communities will benefit when new products and services open their doors for business.

The one-day conference is set for Tues., Aug. 27 at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus. The event kicks off at 9:30 a.m. and will wrap by 3 p.m.

In other news

NORFOLK - Former Speaker of the Nebraska Legislature Mike Flood announced his candidacy for election to the Legislature in District 19, representing all of Madison County and a portion of northwest Stanton County.