Who We Are

GROW Nebraska didn’t start out as ‘GROW Nebraska.’ It began—in the spring of 1992—as the Central Plains Foundation.

And it all came about because the public school in Holbrook, Nebraska closed its doors that same year and the district consolidated with Arapahoe Public Schools, leaving the old school building sitting empty. Seeing this as an opportunity to give back to his community, Mr. John M. Koller—a local businessman and owner of ATC Communications—decided to purchase the vacant school building and establish a non-profit organization. Thus, the Central Plains Foundation was born.

But the early years were not without their struggles. After going through three different executive directors in less than three years time, the Central Plains Foundation Board hired Janell Anderson Ehrke in January of 1995.  The Board quickly supported Janell’s dream to focus the Foundation’s efforts on a statewide marketing program for Nebraska products, arts, and businesses. Together, they developed a comprehensive business plan and began fundraising efforts. They launched the GROW Nebraska program—under the umbrella of the Central Plains Foundation— on January 1, 1998 with 60 members.

Fast forward to 20 years later: 2018. The Central Plains Foundation’s GROW Nebraska program was responsible for helping 11 start-up businesses as well as creating over 35 jobs in the area. The Board realized the GROW Nebraska program was thriving and decided it needed to become the sole purpose of the Foundation. Hence, the Central Plains Foundation name was changed to  the GROW Nebraska® Foundation. The original building was sold in June of 2018 to a sole proprietor to continue to offer business space to local entrepreneurs as GROW Nebraska’s footprint kept expanding.

Today, GROW Nebraska® Foundation serves over 400 Nebraska businesses with an annual budget close to $1 million. We provide training to over 850 businesses yearly and annually host the premier Midwest Marketing gathering conference, MarkeTech.

Giving back to Nebraska businesses has always been the core of GROW Nebraska®. “Marketing” is listed as one of the biggest obstacles for small businesses. GROW Nebraska® is committed to helping individuals and small business owners in Nebraska expand their marketing knowledge and reach through training, one-on-one technical assistance, and online marketing platforms. Our Kearney, NE brick-and-mortar store is used to market test and launch new products. We sponsor the Buy Nebraska Pop-up Store at the Nebraska State Fair and we host the largest Nebraska product online store, buynebraska.com . We are also highly successful on Amazon and Ebay. Every purchase benefits a Nebraska business!

We’re excited to continue growing our organization into the future to be able to benefit even more small business owners and entrepreneurs!

Younes Campus
421 W Talmadge Street Suite #1
Kearney, NE 68845

GROW Nebraska® is a nonprofit 501c3 providing training and education to Nebraska businesses.
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