Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Executive Director August 2018 Update

News - 08.31.18

By Walt Disney (Original Trailer (1951)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, contains a conversation between the Cheshire Cat and Alice:

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?” The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “It really doesn’t matter, does it?”

This can be true in our lives and organizations. After three months in this position, I can see we have a wide variety of opportunities to pursue. The challenge is a limit on the resources we have in time and money. Because of this, as an organization, we’ve gone through an orientation process and now are starting a strategic planning process to help us determine the roads we want to pursue.

As a part of this process we are creating task forces to do additional research and put together proposed plans for the board to consider. These task forces will have board members involved and hopefully a few people from the community. If you want to be more involved in our economic development plan, contact us, and we’ll get you involved with one of our task forces. Currently, there are five areas, we’re looking to include in our strategy.

Housing is one of the topics. A change in state law will expand how we can assist the community with housing in the future. A new part of our LB 840 growth plan we’re hoping to implement is the development and implementation of a workforce housing plan. A workforce housing plan is defined as a program to construct or rehabilitate single family housing or market rate multi-family housing which is designed to address a housing shortage that impairs the ability of a city to attract new businesses or the ability of existing businesses to recruit new employees. This is something I’ve heard is a need the entire time I’ve lived here.

Another task force area is with business retention, expansion, and transition. We’re always in the business of recruiting new businesses, but there is a lot of value in helping our current businesses grow. Usually, there is a better return on investment in a community from current businesses expanding as opposed to the recruitment of new. We hope to explore what support we can provide our current businesses. Part of this, is looking to find a way we can help attract the next generation of business owners to purchase the successful businesses of those looking to retire in the next few years.

A third area we’re looking to include in our new strategic plan is around workforce development. How can we do a better job of making our students aware of the local opportunities available to them and provide them the path to get the education they need to return for these opportunities? In addition, how can we recruit employees that have the skills our local businesses need? Workforce development can also look at the opportunities available for people already here who are underemployed or lacking the skills for living wage occupations.

Fourth, we hope to continue to find ways to encourage entrepreneurship. This area has a rich tradition of entrepreneurship and in the past it has been aided by programs that include the Hormel Entrepreneurship Program. It is exciting to see younger entrepreneurs who have found niches to be successful locally. We need to continue to provide programs to encourage the development and support needed for entrepreneurs to be successful here.

The final area that will have a task force is on business recruitment. Part of this is looking at retail recruitment and finding complementary retailers that will continue to keep McCook as the Southwest Nebraska retail hub. We also are always looking to recruit manufacturing, light industrial, and value enhanced agriculture operations. The recent additions in the Industrial Park east of Valmont that includes Next Generation, Booe Machinery and Salvage, and next spring a new auto/diesel shop have been good additions. We look to continue to find the businesses that fit our workforce and help build on our strengths.

If one of these areas is of interest to you, please contact me at or 308-345-1200 so we can get you involved. The board and I don’t have all the answers and the best way to provide a strong path forward is through the involvement of a wide variety of people. We want to create a local economy that provides the opportunities that allow our children and other young people the opportunity to return to Southwest Nebraska.

In addition to our strategic planning, here are a few other updates from MEDC:

Mastermind Groups – Mastermind groups will begin meeting the week of September 10. If you are looking for a small group that will help in your development and can meet from 7:00-7:50 a.m. or 12:00-12:50 p.m. once a week, apply on-line to be a part of one of these groups at

Keystone Graduate – We’re excited that Southwest Environmental Engineering has ‘graduated’ from their office in the Keystone to their new location on West 7th, to the north of Joltin Jo’s. This provides another office space in the Keystone for rent, and if you are a start-up, there is a significant reduced rate for the first two years.

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.

MEDC launches internship and mastermind programs.

AREA News, Events, News - 07.24.18

McCook Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is holding two information sessions on August 1 at 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. at the Keystone 3rd Floor Training Room to introduce their Mastermind and Internship Programs.

Each session will be about an hour long and food will be included, along with a presentation, and information on the new programs.

Individuals will have a chance to get food and visit with others in attendance at the start of the meeting. Then, Lindsay Hastings, the Executive Director of the Nebraska Human Resources Institute, will be giving the program talking about leadership transitions in rural communities. After the presentation, information will be given on the new MEDC programs.

Both programs work to help develop human capital in the McCook area. The mastermind program is looking to establish 2-3 groups of 8-12 people that meet weekly to invest in each other. Group meetings take place either before work or over the lunch hour and will include book discussion, leadership development, and the opportunity to grow together.

The internship program builds on the success of the Rural Futures Interns hosted in McCook the last three years. MEDC will work to connect local high school and college students with area businesses who are looking for summer interns. MEDC will also provide training and follow up with the interns throughout the summer to make it a meaningful experience.

The event and food are free, but MEDC requests you make reservations by July 30 by contacting Angela at or 308-345-1200.

For more information on the mastermind program click here:

For more information on the intern program click here:

Executive Director July 2018 Update

AREA News, News - 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.