Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

McCook Cowork Space Open House – Sept. 23 – 3:30-7:00 p.m.

AREA News, Events, News, Photo Feature - 09.17.20

McCook Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will host tours of the McCook Cowork Space on September 23rd from 3:30-7:00 p.m. This will be held in conjunction with the McCook Chamber Heritage Days Mixer at the Keystone Business Center, 402 Norris Ave. If you want a tour, show up in the lobby during these times and MEDC Director Andy Long will be available to show you the space and answer questions.

The McCook Cowork Center will provide a professional space in the Keystone Business Center to enhance entrepreneurs, remote work employees, people with a side hustle, and employees of organizations that need additional tools to support the work they do. It will also be a location for tech students in high school and college to create, learn, and train others on how to use technology to improve business. It will create connections and partnerships in how people do work.

MEDC Executive Director Andy Long talked about the importance of the space and said, “Overnight, millions of people in this country learned to work from home. People are productive and happy when they remote work, but remote workers also want a professional location to work from and we strived to produce this.”

Some of the features of the cowork spaces includes 1 Gig internet, 2-iMac computers, 1 Dell Optiplex computer, access to Adobe Creative Suite, 3 private offices with enhanced video conference capabilities, a Dymo Mailing Solution, access to a Sharp MX-3140 color copier/scanner, and multiple work stations with dual monitors. In the future the space will also add an audio/video recording room to allow individuals to create high quality material with tools an individual may not have access.

“We hope to develop creative people with the software and tools to create audio and video,” said Long. “With the growth of podcasts, YouTube, and other digital mediums we want to make sure people in southwest Nebraska can compete and promote what they do worldwide. To be successful we know we need to recruit remote workers and grow our own local businesses.”

Evening and weekend memberships begin at $40/month and full members pay $65/month. You can find out more by calling MEDC at 308-345-1200 or e-mailing Andy Long at andy@mccookne.org.

If you want to see the space and this time doesn’t work for you, e-mail Andy at andy@mccookne.org or call 308-345-1200. More information on the McCook Cowork Space can be found at: https://mccookne.org/keystone-business-center/mccook-cowork-space/


AREA News, Events, News, Photo Feature - 03.24.20

Department of Labor

COVID-19 Resources and Information – This page has information on filing for unemployment insurance benefits and the short term compensation program. The Governor has issued an executive order to ease unemployment insurance eligibility requirements.

Nebraska Department of Economic Development

DED COVID-19 Information – DED contains a variety of information on difference resources available to businesses. You can contact our DED Field Staff member Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or ashley.gerlach@nebraska.gov.

Small Business Administration

COVID-19 Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources – SBA offers a variety of programs including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program that can offer assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.

Nebraska Business Development Center

NBDC Business Resiliency Resources – NBDC offers information on different programs to assist small businesses working through a disaster. You can contact our local NBDC Center Director Charlie McPherson at 308-340-0422 or cmcpherson@unomaha.edu.


Contact our office at 308-345-1200 or e-mail andy@mccookne.org.

Executive Director November Update

AREA News, Events, News - 11.30.18

Image result for Red Willow Nebraska Cattle

According to the 2012 USDA census, Red Willow County had 227 livestock farms with a total of 64,000 cattle. When you add in our surrounding counties, there is an additional 333,600 cattle. That’s a lot of beef.

The backbone of our economy in Red Willow County and Nebraska is agriculture. A report by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agriculture Economics, Nebraska Livestock Expansion White Paper, points out some of our strengths and opportunities. Nebraska ranks 1st in irrigated acres, 1st in commercial red meat production, 2nd in corn-based ethanol, 3rd in corn for grain production, 4th in soybean production, 5th in all hay production, 6th in all hogs and pigs, and 7th in commercial hog slaughter.

Even with these top 10 ranks, there are still opportunities. One of the concerns is Nebraska exports high proportions of its crop output as commodities, which includes over a third of its corn crop, half of the in-state production of distiller’s grain, and more than 80 percent of its soybean meal output.

Based on this, we are excited we were recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) to market Red Willow County to value added agriculture companies. This grant will allow us to build a digital presence and have focused efforts on recruiting value added agriculture companies from the front range of Colorado. We’re excited to be able to partner with AFAN to make this happen.

Anything we can do to improve the economic situation of our local ag producers trickles down to benefit the rest of our local economy. Low commodity prices for an extended time have made agriculture tough, so it is important for us to find opportunities to help producers get the most they can from the sale of commodities.

We also held a MEDC board meeting last week and conducted strategic planning. Through a series of activities, we identified retail recruitment, work force recruitment and development, and housing as our three top priorities.

The area of top importance identified in the near term is retail growth. It is important we retain our place as the retail hub of Southwest Nebraska. Retail has changed, with many brick and mortar retailers being hurt by on-line sales. We plan on a multifaceted approach by helping new local retailers get started and by continuing to recruit national retailers that fill a local gap. In January, we will have a representative from Buxton, a company that is the leader in growth strategies in retail, visit with our board and others who are interested.

A second area of importance identified was workforce development and people attraction. Everyone from the state Chamber of Commerce to the Nebraska Community Foundation has been talking about the importance of people recruitment. We will look at programs to grow our own to fill area needs, along with working to find new ways to put McCook on the map for others to relocate here for job opportunities and the quality of life.

Along with this, we will find ways to support our workforce. Previously, we had applied to be a part of the program Communities for Kids and last week were informed that we have been selected to participate in this program. Experts from Nebraska Children and Families will come to McCook and work with a local core team of 17 people to help us analyze and improve the quantity and quality of early childhood education in McCook.

The other area of main importance continues to be housing. We will continue to work with state programs and explore opportunities to improve our current housing stock and build new homes in McCook. This is a challenge facing almost all of rural Nebraska and we will continue to find local solutions.

All of these components from agriculture, retail, workforce, and housing all rely on local solutions. There isn’t a magic bullet to any of these issues. Fortunately, we left our last meeting with a buzz of excitement as we know we have the individuals and resources locally to grow McCook.

Executive Director October Update

AREA News, Events, News - 10.26.18

One of my favorite shows growing up was the A-Team. The show was about four Vietnam veterans, framed for a crime they didn’t commit, helping the innocent while on the run from the military. Every week, it looked like they were in over their heads and this would be the time they would be caught and sent to military prison. The group of four, who each brought their own individual strengths, would always accomplish the near impossible to help a community. At the end of every episode, their leader, John “Hannibal” Smith would give his classic quote, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

As we continue looking at the challenges facing the McCook area and develop our strategic plan, there are some clear areas where we are planning to make a difference. One of the key areas is in the recruitment of retail. I traveled to Phillipsburg, KS and Holdrege to look at the success both of those communities have had in retail. Phillipsburg followed a grow your own approach, while Holdrege has had success recruiting national brands. We look to take aspects of both to provide a range of shopping options and fill some of our empty storefronts.

A second area of focus is to improve housing availability. We are still discussing a variety of options, but the short term goal will be to figure out incentives to encourage people to build new housing and to remodel our current housing stock. Over the long term, we will look to improve the capacity of the community to be able to build more and explore areas of growth for the community.

A third area of focus has been with business retention, expansion, and transitions. We look to increase our outreach to area businesses to identify the challenges they are facing. Based on this we plan to collaborate with area businesses to help them grow and eventually transition.

Fourth, we also want to look at workforce development. In this category, we hope to help connect area students with the jobs available in this area. We also will look at ways to attract individuals to this area. Part of this is found in our other areas of focus that includes improving our housing and retail options.

The MEDC board plans to spend extra time in November to develop a strategic plan and what would be the best way to help us meet our mission of facilitating the formation, retention, attraction, and expansion of business in McCook and the surrounding area. Along with these areas of focus, we’ll also look at what are some of the big wins we want to have in the next five to ten years and how can we continue to make the Keystone Business Center a successful operation moving forward.

While we work on our strategic plan, there are also many projects moving forward. I have had the opportunity to serve on the BluePrint Nebraska team that is helping to create a 10 year plan for growth for the entire state of Nebraska. It is good to be able to provide a Southwest Nebraska perspective to this team. We also hosted a team of four new staff members from Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). One new member of Nebraska DED is working on a grant to help expose middle school students to career and technical jobs. A few local businesses made a good contact there and have the opportunity to partner in the future.

I have also been working with a leadership group of seniors and the high school to help expose both groups to the opportunities available in McCook. We are also partnering with the college on the Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition. We are looking for new business ideas and businesses in their first five years that are looking to expand to participate.

I’m planning on looking at some of the successes we will have in the future and tell our board, “I love it when a plan comes together.” We have a variety of strengths in our community to help make this happen. As always, if you have questions or thoughts, please call me at 308-345-1200 or e-mail andy@mccookne.org.