BEATRICE – New business start-ups seen by Main Street Beatrice slowed a bit this year. In a fourth quarter report to city officials given Monday night, Main Street Executive Director Michael Sothan said there were about thirty inquiries about starting a business this past year.

"Out of that we had seventeen actual in-person visits...which has been pretty good. Although I will say that this last fiscal year has actually been one of our slowest, in the amount of people that have started a relation to net gains and losses, downtown. We're at an zero."

Sothan says the organization had seen net gains for the past several years. He says there’s definitely some uncertainty out there.

"A large amount of it is capital. Especially coming out of the pandemic, a lot of gave them a chance to start thinking about, maybe I want to go into business for myself and a lot of people started thinking about that...really starting to have some of those conversations....maybe with their spouse, or maybe they had a little bit of extra money that came in from some of those government programs....thinking, maybe this is a time to make a break from my job. But then, as they started crunching the numbers, looking at equipment, renovation costs, rental costs, whatever that almost always comes up."

Sothan says efforts are made to connect potential new business owners with lenders or other assistance. In some cases, there’s an inability to replace the income they’ve been earning through starting a new business.  "We want to build up successful businesses, not people who are here just for six months and then aren't able to make it work. Finances is probably the leading factor."

Sothan says Main Street will continue to work with entrepreneurs on challenges presented by current market conditions.

Mayor-elect Bob Morgan suggests one step would be to work with the regional U.S. Small Business Administration on ways to help people get started in business.
Mayor Stan Wirth says there are several lenders locally who are SBA-certified. Sothan says there are also other programs that could help in acquisition of capital toward starting a new business.