Archive for the ‘AREA News’ Category

Executive Director September Update

AREA News, Events, News, Photo Feature - 10.01.18

It is always inspiring to head back to work after Heritage Days. The highlight of the week for me was the Norris Prayer Breakfast. Wallis Marsh returned from Texas to talk about how the time he spent in McCook helped shape him to become the success he is today. When talking about his class, he said they all worked together to make each other better and referred to it as ‘cooperative competition’. Working together to make each other better is something I still see in this area and is important this month at the MEDC in a couple issues.

First, we are working to improve early childhood education in the McCook area. We have some great people working at child care facilities and in-home daycares, but if you have an infant, you know how difficult it is to find a spot. High quality child care is important to help couples continue to work and provide the foundation their children need to be successful.

This week, we will submit an application to the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation to participate in their Communities for Kids program. The Communities for Kids initiative was created in response to community request for assistance with shortages of high-quality early care and education programs – shortages that both impact children’s optimal development and pose a challenge for communities hoping to attract and retain the viable workforces needed to thrive. We have assembled a local core team that contains child care providers, major employers, and interested individuals who hope to work with Nebraska Children to come up with long-term solutions for childcare in the McCook area. If you have thoughts or would like to become more involved in this, let me know.

This month, we will convene task forces to help us develop our next strategic plan. Some of the main topics we’ll focus on including housing, business retention, expansion, and transitions, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and recruitment. Some of the questions I have going into our task force meetings include:

  • What would be the best incentives we could provide to improve our housing?
  • How can we help businesses transition to the next generation of owners?
  • How do we develop the next generation of business owners?
  • What programs and awareness will help us train and recruit people to fill the jobs we already have available?
  • What new educational programs do we need to develop to meet our employment needs?
  • How do we encourage entrepreneurship and help startups take off successfully?

There are a variety of other questions, but if you have thoughts on any of these topics, please let me know so we can consider it as we develop our strategic plan.

Finally, I would encourage you to attend the Mid-Plains Community College Public Input Session October 23 at 5:30 p.m. at the student union. I have firsthand knowledge on how important this information is in planning the college’s strategic plan. The college is a great local asset and it is important for local employers and McCook Community College to be able to expand the technical offerings. There is the opportunity to work with area high schools on this expansion, but we need to speak up and offer to help where we can.

If you have thoughts on any of the following, please let me know at or 308-345-1200.

Lopez Family Purchases Business Park Lot

AREA News, Events, News, Photo Feature - 09.05.18

Maria and Luis Lopez stand next to the entrance of the McCook Business Park, where they have begun work to open their auto/diesel shop next spring.

This May, McCook Economic Development Corporation welcomed the newest owners to the Industrial Park when Luis and Maria Lopez purchased #1 Industrial Park Drive. The Lopez family has moved to McCook from Denver with their four children, Felipe, 19, Anthony, 16, Maria Giselle, 12, and Isabel, 10.  They are planning to have their auto mechanic and diesel shop open in the spring of 2019.

Luis and Maria became familiar with McCook thanks to a good friend, Omar Carbajal. During their visits to McCook, the idea of moving to a smaller community grew for the Lopez’s.

Luis has owned his own repair shop in Denver since 2013. They sold their shop in Denver and have used the proceeds from the sale to move, buy and fix up a home, and now start to build their shop in McCook. They are doing most of the work themselves to get up and running and are excited for the opportunity to become a part of the community.

The Lopez family purchased the fourth business lot sold. Silverstone was the first occupant who came in 2002. Eleven years later, in 2013, Booe Machinery and Salvage became the second owner. Then, last year Next Generation made a major investment into the industrial park to expand their network of liquid storage for the agriculture industry. There are still four lots for sale at the industrial park.

Southwest Environmental Engineering is most recent Keystone ‘Graduate’

AREA News, Events, News, Photo Feature - 08.31.18

Southwest Environmental Engineering owners Jacque Riener and Dan Stoney stand outside their new location on West 7th with their Keystone Graduate certificate.

Business Partners Jacque Riener and Dan Stoney of Southwest Environmental Engineering are the most recent ‘graduates’ of the Keystone Business Center as they have outgrown their office location in the Keystone and have relocated to 204 West 7th Street. Southwest Environmental Engineering helps people comply with environmental regulations. This can include anything from a report to providing guidance through the legal framework with environmental regulations.

Southwest Environmental Engineering got its start in 2014 from Jacque’s kitchen table. Later in the year, Jacque and Dan were able to rent an office in the Keystone Business Center. Jacque said, “The Keystone was a good starting point for our business. With the initial equipment purchases we had to make, it was nice to have affordable office space in the Keystone.”

The networking was also good for Southwest Environmental Engineering as they were able to interact with other businesses in the building and connect with local business leaders who came to the building for meetings.

Dan and Jacque have been business partners since the beginning of the business. Dan does the field work while Jacque specializes in report writing. Their space in the Keystone, while good at the start, limited the amount of storage they had for samples.

The opportunity to purchase their current office space meets some of the current needs the business has. The garage provides storage needed for the business, as well as the increased exposure they have being located less than half a block from B St. The space also gives them additional land and office space and gives them the opportunity to grow

“This is exactly why McCook Economic Development Corporation turned the Keystone into a business incubator,” said Executive Director Andy Long. “The ability for new businesses to get a start in a location with resource providers being on-site and a community of other small businesses is valuable for our area. We’re excited Jacque and Dan have outgrown their space and look forward to our next tenant.”

The Keystone Business Center was purchased by the McCook Economic Development Corporation in 2009. Through a combination of support from the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, Nebraska State Historical Society, LB 840 Growth Funds, TIF financing, individual donations, and debt financing, the Keystone was restored to serve as a business incubator. Southwest Environmental Engineering’s space is now available and startup businesses can receive an initial monthly rent at half the market rate for the first year. Contact MEDC at 308-345-1200 or for more information.

McCook Employee Recruitment Video Available to Local Organizations

AREA News, Events, News, Photo Feature - 08.21.18





In an effort to assist businesses who recruit workers from outside the area, the McCook Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) released a McCook Recruitment Video to improve the on-line presence for prospective employees. The four minute video features area amenities and testimonials of individuals who are proud to live, work, and play in the McCook area.

The idea of the video was initially formed by former Executive Director Andrew Ambriz and Acme Printing and Design owner Jared Muehlenkamp. Lexi Gross, who is studying Media at Fort Hays State University, was hired as a summer intern to capture the material and develop the video.


Andy Long, MEDC Executive Director said, “For the last couple years, I have heard from major employers who said it was difficult to attract qualified candidates to McCook. When all you see is a little dot on a map, it is hard to attract candidates. We can use this video to help us put our best foot forward and highlight the great quality of life found in southwest Nebraska, it helps make the right first impression to people considering employment here. Coordinating this effort seemed like a great way to provide a service to area employers.”


MEDC welcomes businesses and to link or embed the video on their website that can be found here: If anyone has questions or needs the code to embed the video, they can contact Andy at or 308-345-1200.