Archive for the ‘AREA News’ Category

Executive Director July 2018 Update

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 07.24.18

I’ve always been interested in history and biographies. One of the most interesting biographies I read was, Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson. Franklin lived an amazing life as a printer, inventor, scientist, politician, and diplomat. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris.  I read biographies not just to learn about an interesting individual, but also see what I can learn from and apply from the life of the person.

One part of Franklin’s life that intrigued me was how he learned about his profession. At the age of 12, Franklin became an apprentice of his brother James at a print shop. Through this experience Franklin learned about newspaper publishing and eventually became a printer.

From my own experience, the best experience I had in college was working at the Office of Admissions and for UNL’s summer orientation program. I learned about the world of work, but also through the job I was given ownership of my own projects, which included writing the curriculum for campus tours at the university. This experience helped lead me into higher education administration nearly a decade ago.

We would like to help more local students with internships. Throughout the next school year, we will be recruiting businesses and students to participate in internships next summer. As a part of the internships, we plan to give the students two days of soft skills training at the start of the internship and work with the students every two weeks throughout the summer to help them develop. We hope to connect students at the high school and college with opportunities that will bring them back to McCook after finishing their education.

A second part of Franklin’s life that really interested me was the Junto Club. When Franklin was 21, he and a group of friends founded the Junto Club. This group of 12 tradesmen and artisans met every Friday evening to discuss a variety of topics. The Junto was a launching pad for ideas that improved the community including the first lending library, University of Pennsylvania, volunteer militia, and Pennsylvania Hospital.

Currently, I’m a part of a Catalyst group, where the Sherwood Foundation helps individuals get together every other month to grow and learn with each other. I also attend a men’s group almost every Wednesday morning at my church. These small groups provide me with an opportunity to grow and learn and also support in challenging times and opportunities to celebrate during good times.

We would like to start the process of forming some local mastermind groups. These are groups that will meet weekly before work or over lunch and read leadership books, provide support for each other, and help in the growth and development of each other. We have a strong leadership program through Southwest Nebraska Leadership Institute and this is a program that gives individuals an opportunity to keep the personal growth ongoing after a great one year experience. I believe based on what I’ve read and seen from a variety of groups similar to this, we can continue to grow the next generation of community leaders.

We are hosting an event to provide more information on both the internship and mastermind programs at a MEDC Fiesta on August 1 from 12:00-1:00 p.m.  or 5:00-6:00 p.m. at the Keystone 3rd floor training room. There will be food, a presentation from Lindsay Hastings from the Nebraska Human Resources Institute, and more information on our mastermind and internship programs. If you would like to attend, please RSVP by Friday, July 27 so we have enough food by e-mailing or calling 308-345-1200. If you have any questions, please contact me at or 308-345-1200.

Retail Incubation Space in the Keystone Now Available

AREA News, Events, Photo Feature - 06.28.18

McCook Economic Development Staff Andy Long and Angela Allen stand outside the ‘Retail Incubator’ at the Keystone Business Center ready to welcome the first tenant.

McCook Economic Development launches Retail Incubator at the Keystone

McCook Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) has launched its Retail Incubator program to help individuals thinking about opening their own retail business in McCook. The program allows individuals to rent the 578 square foot space in the Keystone on the first floor on the corner of Norris and D. Individuals can sign up for a six month lease for a total of $1,200. At the end of the six months, individuals then will need to find a permanent retail space in the community to continue their operations.

To qualify for the Retail Incubator space, individuals need to complete a business plan, meet with a retail mentor organized through the MEDC, and pay the entire rent up front. If individuals need financial help to get started, they can use their business plan to apply for a loan from the Revolving Loan Fund.

“We’ve got great unique retail businesses in McCook. To remain the hub of retail in Southwest Nebraska, we need to help local individuals with a retail dream get started. The Retail Incubator program allows individuals to test a retail idea they have on a trial basis. The additional coaching can help individuals work out the details so they can get a successful start,” said Andy Long, MEDC Executive Director.

For more information click here or contact the MEDC at 308-345-1200 or

Executive Director June 2018 Update

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 06.28.18

Executive Director June 2018 Update

My first job out of college was teaching in Big Springs. Being a single guy, I always had other colleagues and community members keeping their eye out for eligible bachelorettes. Although there wasn’t a large selection of single people in the Big Springs area, I did manage to go a few dates that others set up. I was lucky to meet my wife when I was coaching basketball and she was the newspaper editor in the neighboring town of Julesburg. Although this wasn’t a date others set up for me, it was a successful match.

Now, I’m the one looking to set up retail businesses with our community. One effort we are making is to recruit outside national retailers to McCook. Half a year ago, McCook sent a team to Retail Strategies training. This training provided the team with a list of national retailers that would be a good fit for our demographics. It also provided the information these retailers want to know about the community. Part of the information retailers want is to know is what properties are available. Members of this team have researched this and based on this, we have started to send out packets courting retailers to explore opening their next store in McCook.

Many times, the best match for an individual is someone local. This can be true in retail also. We are also working to help individuals with a retail idea to start their own retail business. There are a variety of resources available in terms of education and capital to start a business in McCook. Charlie McPherson, Nebraska Business Development Center Director, is located on the third floor of the Keystone and is available to help you develop your business plan. Once you have a solid plan in place, there is an LB 840 revolving loan fund that you can apply for to provide some of the capital you need to start your business.

McCook Economic Development is launching the Retail Incubator. We are offering a six-month discounted lease to our first floor space that is on the corner of D and Norris. This is an outstanding location for you to try out your retail idea. With a six month lease, you can afford to take a risk. If it works, then we’ll help you identify a permanent retail location in the community. If it doesn’t, it can be a great learning opportunity, without breaking the bank. We do want you to be successful so we require individuals who participate in this program to have a completed business plan and meet with a retail mentor that we would help set up.

If you want to own your own retail business, but don’t want to start from scratch, please let me know. I have had a couple local businesses contact me, letting me know that in the next couple of years they would like to transition out of their business. They don’t want to announce this publicly, but if you would be interested in purchasing a local business so you can be your own boss, maybe I can play the role of matchmaker for you.

It is also important for us to match our local dollars with our local retailers. You can find a wider selection on-line and probably items for cheaper, but when you purchase from an on-line retailer located outside of the area, your money is leaving the area. When you buy from our local retailers, the money you spend turns over in the community multiple times. The sales tax we pay goes to support the state and local government, helping make this a better place. Our local retailers also have been great supporters of local fundraisers and organizations, something I haven’t seen Amazon do.

My wife and I have been married for over fourteen years and it was a great match. I’m not in the business of helping you find a mate, but I am in the business of making local businesses matches. I tried watching the Bachelor for tips, but what I saw on there wasn’t going to work with retail matches in McCook. What has worked has been listening to people in this area on their needs and interests. Please contact me if I can help you start or purchase your own retail business.

Andy Long Named New Executive Director

AREA News, News - 05.29.18

Wishing to create a community with opportunities that his children could one day move back to, McCook Community College Vice-President Andy Long will leave his position at the college to accept the executive director’s position at McCook Economic Development Corp.

Long comes to the MEDC after spending the past five years at MCC where enrollment, retention, and housing occupancy all increased. Long also played a role in restarting the Hormel Entrepreneurship Program, initiating the McCook College Leadership Program, and developing community leadership programs that included bringing motivational speaker John O’Leary to the Fox Theater this past fall.

“MEDC and the community are blessed to have Andy at the helm. He is a proven leader, visionary, and a man of action. He has local connections, Southwest Nebraska roots, a fine family, outstanding values, experience, and education,” said MEDC Board President Dennis Berry.

Long’s focus at MEDC includes three big areas: retail and industrial recruitment, human capital development, and fostering entrepreneurship.

“The past five years, our family has come to love McCook, and I’m thrilled I can play a part in increasing economic opportunities here,” Long said. “Working at the college, I found that I enjoyed the work I did in the community and partnering with area businesses to help meet their educational and training needs.”

Long said that through his position at the college, he was most drawn to working throughout the community, helping local businesses, guiding leadership programs at the college with area students, and developing community leadership and entrepreneurship.

“When I look at what talents and gifts I have, it seems that the things I enjoy the most and could be most successful at were tying the college to the community. This [the MEDC position] was an opportunity that gives me a chance to focus on McCook, on what I do well, and where I can make a difference.”

Long will be transitioning from the college to the MEDC through the month of May and will be full-time with MEDC in June. Through the transition, he will be reaching out to area individuals and businesses to learn more about their needs for economic development. He welcomes hearing from the public and can be reached at (308) 345-1200.