One of the events that small rural communities look forward to each week is when they get their local paper.
When residents of Wabaunsee County, Kansas read the local news, they have Lori L. Daniel – Editor, Owner, Publisher – of the Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise to thank.
Lori Daniel first began working at the Wabaunsee County’s Signal-Enterprise weekly newspaper in the late 1970’s during her junior and senior years in high school. At that time, the paper had been printing for more than 100 years in northeastern Kansas.
Apparently, during her time at the Signal-Enterprise Lori found some ‘ink in her veins.’
After high school graduation, Lori continued in the newspaper business spending the next 36 years working for the agriculture newspaper Grass & Grain published by Ag Press. At Ag Press she learned and mastered all the skills of printing and publishing including typesetting copy, building ads and even branching out into advertising sales, final page layout, and design. Lori maintained publishing software for billing, ad pricing, accounting, mailing lists – learning all aspects of the newspaper business.
In 2014 she found her way back to The Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise and worked two days each week for then owner Ervan Stuewe. Lori developed her skills as a graphic artist as well as a nice account list of commercial customers.
Over the next year of work at The Signal-Enterprise Lori became interested in doing more at the paper – she wanted to be the owner.
In early 2016 Lori met with Kansas SBDC at Washburn University (WU) advisor Les Streit and Tracy Henry, Director of Wabaunsee Economic Development. Lori already had a local bank interested in helping with the financing but needed additional funding to purchase the business. Working with the SBDC she pulled together a solid business plan to secure financing.
“Les Streit explained various options, offered support and encouragement. He also talked with me realistically about the printing and publishing business – especially newspapers,” shared Lori. “I believe he was making sure I knew what I was getting into. Then he helped me put together a business plan, complete with charts and future income projections. I believe all this made the difference in my obtaining my e-community loan. I was looking into tapping my retirement fund. I didn’t think I had any other option until I met with Les.”
Together with Lori’s own equity contribution, a commercial bank loan and a Wabaunsee County E-Community loan, the financing package was finalized and Lori became the new owner of The Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise in June 2016.
When we talked with Les Streit, Kansas SBDC at WU advisor, he attributes the successful purchase and transition of this business to Lori’s tenacity and the cohesive effort from all the financing partners as they worked together to assist in the asset purchase of the business. “The Kansas SBDC at Washburn was very honored and pleased to work with such a talented business entrepreneur and her funding partners,” said Les.
To date this 134-year-old paper continues to publish weekly in the county seat of Wabaunsee County in Alma, Kansas, population 792. In addition to Lori, the Signal-Enterprise employs two part-time staffers, two part-time reporters, and two contributing roving photographers.
More about Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise
Website: Wabaunsee County Signal-Enterprise
Kansas SBDC Advisor
Les Streit, WU