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Commentary : the view from Main Street

  • Economics


Equity for Rural America: From Wall Street to Main Street Commentary: The View from Main Street Tony Raimondo I am delighted to be here and sincerely appreciate the invitation to share ideas and concepts on this subject, which is critical to rural America. I can assure you that when we improve the venture capital and angel opportunities, there are at least ten incubator companies in Nebraska pursuing financial assistance. These companies are primarily located in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the University of Nebraska Technology Park. So, I concur with our speaker who highlighted the need for unique partnerships within local regions to assist entrepreneurial efforts. I have been asked many times why I volun- teered for several state appointments by the Governor of Nebraska. The answer is a unique partnership saved my company, Behlen Manufac- turing Company (BMC) in Columbus, Nebraska. I have been asked to share our experience related to the subject today. BANKRUPTCY AND BUYOUT In 1984, I led a leveraged buyout of Behlen by the Wickes Corporation. Behlen was in Chapter 11. Behlen lost $7 million in Wickes last fiscal year and lost another $7 million on $32 mil- lion in revenues in our first year of returning to local ownership. At that time, in addition to obtaining sound but expensive current asset financing (3.5 percent over prime), we received significant local, state, and federal assistance. Our local community along with the state pro- vided a key $500,000 Block Grant at low inter- est for state-of-the-art machinery in our wire mesh products area. In addition to this, our State Department of Economic Development linked us into a Federal Urban Development Action Grant with a local village that qualified for the Blighted Category. I am pleased to announce that both loans were paid off early and directly to our local communities to reinvest in infra- structure and further economic development. The trauma we

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