Nebraska State Fair once-a-year opportunity for GROW members to get statewide exposure

Nebraska State Fair once-a-year opportunity for GROW members to get statewide exposure

Nebraska State Fair once-a-year opportunity for GROW members to get statewide exposure

State Fair GROW Nebraska Store Entrance

Grand Island, Neb – “There’s nothing more Nebraskan” than the Nebraska State Fair, and there’s no better way to support the state than helping its small businesses thrive. 

That’s why the GROW Nebraska Foundation is bringing back the Buy Nebraska Store to the 2021 fair for the 17th year in a row. 

The more than 300,000 attendees who typically show up to the event in Grand Island, hosted this year Aug. 27 – Sept. 6, will have the chance to stop by the store at the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center and support more than 40 local Nebraska businesses who will be showcasing snacks, wearables, soaps, seasoning, meats and more.  

On select days, entrepreneurs will also be setting up sampling stations, so anyone who stops by can get a taste of their product. Some artisan businesses will also be crafting their wares live on site. 

“Every year, our store is a big hit with the crowds. Everyone loves trying some popcorn or watching jewelry being made,” said GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke. “This provides a great opportunity for our members to form new relationships and get exposure for their brands.”

The goal of this year’s store is to generate more than $150,000 worth of sales for these businesses, a boon to their Q3 quotas and a banging start to the holiday shopping season. 

All products featured at the Buy Nebraska store will also be available at the website, so the products sampled or seen at the event can be enjoyed well beyond the State Fair. 

“For many of these businesses, eCommerce is the area where they have the most potential for growth,” said GROW Product Marketing Coordinator Clarissa Feldman. “We’re getting dozens of orders every day for our members through our ecommerce site, as well as Amazon and eBay.”

By the year 2040, 95% of all purchases will be facilitated by eCommerce, according to research from NASDAQ. It’s GROW Nebraska’s goal to make sure its member businesses are ahead of that curve. 

As an educational 501c3, GROW Nebraska strives to provide both marketing opportunities like the state fair store, as well as business training opportunities. A purchase at the store not only directly supports the business who made the product, but also helps GROW provide educational opportunities like its annual MarkeTech Conference, monthly webinars and one-on-one training. 

“Our goal is to help these business owners make a sustainable living, no matter where they live in the state,” Anderson Ehrke said. “The state fair store is a step toward that goal for them, but we’re doing whatever we can to help these entrepreneurs all year long.”

Questions about the GROW Nebraska Foundation or its Buy Nebraska store can be directed to


Basics of Bookkeeping: Loving Your Balance Sheet | GROW Nebraska’s® FREE Online Training

Basics of Bookkeeping: Loving Your Balance Sheet | GROW Nebraska’s® FREE Online Training

GROW Nebraska’s® FREE Online Training

Basics of Book Keeping: Loving Your Balance Sheet

Steps to starting a small business
The presentation is about the balance sheet, why it matters, and how to use it.
  • The balance sheet is your scorecard
  • The balance sheet is an early warning system
  • Check your balance sheet regularly

DATE: March 18th

TIME: Noon – 1:00 p.m. CST

LOCATION: Live Stream

COST: Free, must register to receive call-in details and recording

Cory Morris has loved budgeting for as long as he can remember, and even convinced several budget-haters to love it too! That passion has grown into loving the numbers of business, and how those numbers tell us the health of the business. From 400 unit apartment complexes to start up vehicle sanitation companies, the books can be a source of fear and frustration, or a source of peace and direction.

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

Hughes Strives to Make Road to Success Easier For Entrepreneurs

When Cheryl Hughes began HR Poppin’ Snacks more than 20 years ago, she encountered a steep learning curve. Not only was she learning how to make the best quality popcorn, but she also had to learn all aspects of snack food manufacturing and wholesale.

At about the same time, GROW Nebraska also started with the intent to help educate and promote businesses just like hers. Cheryl joined as one of GROW’s first members.

“There was always a learning experience, good exposure and good advertising,” Cheryl said of GROW. “They have done a great job for me.”

HR Poppin’ Snacks grew into a successful business that now pops more than 20,000 pounds of popcorn seeds annually from its store in Gibbon and sells popcorn in more than 135 flavors in stores around the county.

Cheryl has maintained her GROW membership the entire time, and she continues to give back to GROW through mentoring and giving advice to other members. And her giving doesn’t just stop with members.

Entrepreneurs have traveled to Gibbon from as far away as Brazil, Paris and Nigeria to visit HR Poppin’ Snacks to learn how to produce quality popcorn for their business ventures. Cheryl gladly shares her knowledge with anyone who asks without charging consulting fees.

“If I can help somebody with a leg up, then I do,” she said. “I learned the hard way because I didn’t have someone in the know to mentor me. Now, I have the benefit of the knowledge so I want to share with others to make their road to success a little easier.”

Cheryl and her husband, Gary, are adamant about using their business to help others. That philosophy started with the naming of their business nearly 20 years ago. The HR in the name stands for ‘Heavenly Reason.’

At least 10 percent of their earnings go to charity or someone in need, whether it’s donating popcorn gift baskets to local fundraisers or giving popcorn away to those serving in the military.

“This has happened by the grace of God, and we need to give back,” Cheryl said.

GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson-Ehrke said Cheryl donates all of her mentoring services to pay it forward, which makes a huge difference for many business owners.

“She’s easily touched more than 100 businesses we’ve worked with,” Janell said.

In the early days of GROW, Chery helped set up a retail store in Grand Island and later launched the UPC program to help GROW members sell their products on sites like Amazon. Members who sell just one or two products can save money by buying into GROW’s UPC numbers instead of spending hundreds of dollars to purchase their own UPC number.

When GROW members ask about product labeling, Cheryl is their source for answers.

New GROW Nebraska member Karen Ogelsby, owner of MoKa’s Kitchen, recently relied on help from Cheryl with labeling her popcorn for sale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karen thought her business would be “dead in the water” when COVID-19 hit. Her business previously provided artisan and gourmet popcorn for special events. When the special events stopped, so did her business. Chery helped Karen find a distributor to make her popcorn products available in stores, where shoppers were still flocking to buy snacks during the pandemic. MoKa’s Kitchen popcorn is now in 50 locations across the state.

Janell said she is grateful for members like Cheryl who give back and wants to celebrate her and others.

“I don’t want to forget where we came from,” Janell said. “It’s been GROW and a whole bunch of people and members who just kept giving back.”

Cheryl said she’s always lived with the philosophy that there’s always enough business to go around. She’s not worried about helping her potential competitors.

“If I continue to make a quality product and do my business well, I shouldn’t have any problems,” she said.

Cheryl encourages anyone who is considering starting a business or developing a product to contact GROW Nebraska.

“There are lots of ways that GROW Nebraska can help,” she said.

One of the biggest benefits, Cheryl said, is the annual MarkeTech conference, which she has attended every year it has been offered.

“It’s a great benefit, and any member that I work with I encourage them to attend MarkeTech,” she said. “It’s well-organized, provides good networking opportunities and education. I encourage anyone in the state, even if you aren’t a member of GROW Nebraska, to participate in MarkeTech.”

The 2021 MarkeTech conference is scheduled for Thursday, July 15, in Kearney. For more information, visit To sign up for the GROW newsletter to stay informed on upcoming trainings, visit here.

With holiday popcorn sales just wrapping up, Cheryl said she is preparing to launch new popcorn flavors soon.

Story by Kristine Jacobson, GROW Nebraska member and owner of KRJ Public Relations, a business that specializes in helping non-profits and other businesses tell their stories and gain momentum through blogs, newsletters, annual reports, social media and other publications.

Game and Parks partners with Grow Nebraska for centennial year swag

Game and Parks partners with Grow Nebraska for centennial year swag

Game and Parks partners with Grow Nebraska for centennial year swag

LINCOLN, Neb. — Outdoors fans now can show their Nebraska parks pride with merchandise celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission parks system.

A variety of items, from camper favorites to collectibles, will be available online through Grow Nebraska. Find a direct link to the shop through

“The partnership with Grow Nebraska is a great one, and one that will help get these commemorative products in outdoor enthusiasts’ hands — no matter where they live,” said Margot Desrocher, parks program manager. “This also is a great way to support our amazing Nebraska park system, a system that belongs to the people of the state.”

Proceeds from the sales will go to the parks’ fund for improvement projects, including improved infrastructure, new amenities and added accessibility.

The initial product launch includes high-quality vinyl stickers featuring the Nebraska State Parks centennial logo; iron-on patches; and a special-edition commemorative coin. Coming soon are T-shirts, fanny packs, coffee mugs, water bottles, flying discs, coasters, hats and 12 other collectible coin designs.

“We are grateful to work with Nebraska Game and Parks on offering gift items that celebrate the 100th anniversary of the state park system,” said Janell Anderson-Ehrke, GROW Nebraska Foundation CEO. “This is a very exciting project.”

Additional merchandise is expected to be added throughout the centennial year.

The centennial celebration, themed “Your Memories, Your Adventures, Your Parks,” honors the park system’s legacy while also looking to its bright future. To learn more, visit

GROW Nebraska® Members Help Each Other GROW To New Heights

GROW Nebraska® Members Help Each Other GROW To New Heights

GROW Nebraska® Members Help Each Other GROW To New Heights


cinnamon rolls

Sometimes, all it takes to grow is making the right connection.

That’s how GROW Nebraska helped Stacy Lynn’s Baking Company launch online sales of its made-from-scratch-just-like-grandma-used-to-make cinnamon rolls.

Stacy Lynn, owner of the Henderson-based baking company, inquired with GROW about selling her popular cinnamon rolls (frosted, caramel and maple bacon) online, which became even more important during the coronavirus pandemic as more shoppers are buying online.

Selling and shipping any frozen product requires knowledge of transit times and how much dry ice to pack, which shipping companies to hire and ensuring that products arrive to the customer in good condition even in the heat of the summer.

Nebraska Star Beef started shipping its frozen meat products about four years ago and has learned a few tips and tricks along the way. The Phelps-County-based company that raises and ships beef around the country already handles storing and shipping for another GROW Nebraska business, Gary’s QuickSteak. Why not add cinnamon rolls to the mix?

Kayla Pfister, office manager for Nebraska Star Beef, said they are glad to share their expertise to help other Nebraska businesses and have enjoyed the process of helping Stacy launch her online sales.

“We have a good reputation for shipping and making sure products get there in good condition, so why not help out another business?” Kayla said. “We are all here to help each other out and grow each other’s businesses.”

Stacy said after she received Nebraska Star Beef’s contact information from GROW Nebraska, she did her research and was impressed with Kayla and her team.

“Kayla is outstanding in how she is so helpful and can steer you away from the hurdles,” Stacy said. “They know from experience of what works and what doesn’t. You just don’t see a lot of companies taking the time to help people like that. Kayla will sit down with you and tell you the pitfalls. These guys go above and beyond. They are a class-act operation.”

Kayla said they are now planning a partnership to promote each other on social media, and Kayla wants to help get the word out “that you can receive these awesome cinnamon rolls in the mail now.”

Janell Anderson Ehrke, CEO of GROW Nebraska, said Nebraska Star Beef is helping these businesses by sharing their expertise in shipping frozen products, which is a problem most businesses can’t afford to tackle.

“This is an important niche that we can connect these businesses, and that’s a real win for Nebraska,” Janell said.

To order Stacy Lynn’s Cinnamon Rolls online, visit Stacy Lynn’s Baking Company is a custom-order bakery specializing in small desserts, such as cupcakes, cake pops, brownies and cookies. Her cinnamon rolls are available also at the Buy Nebraska store in Kearney and at Hy-Vee and other grocery stores across the state.

To order Nebraska Star Beef hamburger, steaks, seasoning or jerky, visit Nebraska Star Beef is a family-owned and operated company dedicated to providing the highest quality, premium Angus beef.

GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.