Petrie is the mobility manager of the seven-county Area Agency on Aging. Her job is to find transportation options in Van Wert, which has no buses, one cab and a lot of needs. So Petrie helped recruit Liberty Mobility Now to Van Wert. The startup began in Nebraska about two years ago and has expanded to Texas and Ohio. It’s also on its way to Colorado.
Founder Valerie Lefler grew up on a dairy farm and worked on rural transportation issues at the University of Nebraska. She created Liberty as a business, but she talks about it as a mission — one requiring drivers to do more than leave customers at the door. “We really look for folks who are altruistic, that would want to do this anyway because that’s what they would do for their best friend or their own mother,” Lefler says.