Archive for the ‘News’ 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/

GROW Nebraska receives USDA grant to provide digital marketing coaching to McCook Area Businesses

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 08.19.20

Today, Janell Anderson Ehrke, CEO and Founder of GROW Nebraska, presented to a group of McCook area businesses on a USDA grant they received to help McCook area businesses develop a digital marketing plan.

GROW Nebraska’s USDA grant allows them to work with McCook, Sidney, and Alliance businesses for no charge to provide training, coaching, technical assistance, and free Google AdWords advertising.

“During the recent pandemic shutdown, businesses working with us and selling on-line saw an increase in sales. 83% of orders GROW Nebraska sees on-line come from out of state,” said Janell Anderson Ehrke. The training, coaching, and services GROW Nebraska provides has helped businesses adapt to the changing retail environment.

McCook Chamber of Commerce and McCook Economic Development Corporation are partnering with GROW Nebraska to make this program available to area businesses. McCook Chamber President/CEO Dawson Brunswick said, “We are happy to provide opportunities to our members to grow their business. We’re excited this opportunity will help our local businesses sell to the world.”

There is no cost to local businesses to participate in the program. The only requirement of participating is the business is a current McCook Chamber of Commerce member. To participate in the program a business goes to grownebraska.org/join. A business can choose Basic or Bundle package, choose invoice me, and don’t pay as the grant will cover the cost. GROW Nebraska will contact you for a 30-minute consultation to start the process. Funding through the grant will provide 12 months of assistance.

If a local business has more questions, you can contact Anderson Ehrke at 308.962.6767 or janell@grownebraska.org.

MEDC Offers Destination Business Training this fall

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 07.21.20

Destination Creation is an eight week course taught via Zoom to help local, independent businesses turn themselves into a destination business. Each course is two hours in length and includes recorded video instruction from Jon Schallert and facilitation from McCook Economic Development Corporation Executive Director, Andy Long.

Jon Schallert is the only professional speaker teaching businesses and communities how to turn themselves into Consumer Destinations.  Jon developed his proprietary 14-step “Destination Business” process after interviewing over 10,000 independent business owners in nearly 600 cities, towns, and downtowns. During this Covid-19 crisis, Jon is focusing on helping business owners, communities, and associations with critical business information.

The Destination Creation Course is an 8-chapter class, with a new section on business tactics during the Covid-19 crisis.

New Chapter: Covid-19 Business Survival Tips
Chapter 1: Becoming a Destination Business
Chapter 2: Your Unique Positioning
Chapter 3: Your Leadership Responsibility
Chapter 4: Targeting Your Most Profitable Customers
Chapter 5: Capturing Consumer and Media Attention
Chapter 6: Creating a Customer-Focused Company
Chapter 7: Marketing Your Destination Business
Chapter 8: Collective Marketing

All of the content for the class is recorded in our Destination University online library. Content is accessed through the Destination University portal, and webinars can be viewed on your computer, mobile device, or phone. Some of the content will be viewed during the class, and participants can also view all of the content from home.

At the end of each chapter are individual questions that tie the material back to each individual owner’s business. This allows for owners to finish a chapter and immediately put into practice in their businesses the concepts discussed in the class.

More information about Schallert and the course can be found here: https://www.successfulindependentbusiness.com/

Fall Class Opportunities

Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00 p.m. CT starting September 16 through November 4. Register here: https://bit.ly/2OGo76C – class attendance wasn’t high enough. There will just be on option for the class on Monday evenings.

Mondays from 6:00-8:00 p.m. CT starting September 21 through November 16 (no class November 2). Register here: https://bit.ly/3k0XkjQ


Cost of the program is $399. McCook area businesses who complete the class will receive a $100 refund from McCook Economic Development at the end of the program.


Contact Andy Long at andy@mccookne.org or call 308-345-1200

Brainchildren: McCook Communities for Kids’ Meeting-of-the-Minds Increases Childcare and Community

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 06.24.20

“What are the greatest strengths of your community?”

This was one of the questions that McCook’s Communities for Kids team asked in a survey sent to their families.

When Andy Long and the McCook Communities for Kids team put together this questionnaire, they were looking for answers, but not just any answers.

The team sought to create incentivizing opportunities for early care providers to open centers in their area. So, when the core team created and sent out the questionnaire, they were looking for clues to build on their community’s pre-existing strengths.

“What are the greatest strengths of your community?”     
When McCook’s C4K put together this questionnaire, they were looking for clues to build on their community’s preexisting strengths.   

One of these strengths include a community with robust early childhood education and care. Andy Long, Executive Director at McCook Economic Development Corporation and early childhood advocate, was struck by a seminar he attended which featured the concept of brain-friendly communities.

“A brain-friendly community is one where the kids have enough; the [childcare] centers have everything they need,” said Andy.

A brain-friendly community is one where the kids have enough; the [childcare] centers have everything they need,” said Andy Long, Executive Director at McCook Economic Development Corporation and early childhood advocate.

This vision ties particularly well into Nebraska Children’s vision. As an organization that strives for every child to thrive and reach his or her full potential, Andy’s words resonate with our own.

Whereas we have recently undergone some undeniably difficult times, a brain-friendly community puts aside its differences to have a meeting-of-the-minds. McCook Communities for Kids is no exception.

Communities for Kids (C4K) is one of our Early Childhood initiatives. The program further amplifies the concept of communities creating positive change. This initiative’s goal is to ensure that connections are made to create quality early childhood programs and supported caregivers.

McCook providers brainstorm what quality childcare means at the C4K kick-off meeting.

When the C4K team received the survey responses, they made decisions based on their community’s strengths and opportunities. The goal was to create a series of incentives that would benefit and increase the quality and presence of early childhood professionals in their area.

Good Things Come in 3s: McCook Launches their Plan to Incentivize Childcare Professionals

The brainchildren of this survey were then born. Based on the responses, McCook’s C4K created three early childhood initiatives:

Infant Incentive – Providers receive an extra $250 per baby to increase infant care
Jump Start – $3,000 of start-up funds were awarded to three providers who completed an eight-week online class online classes and planned to open a new childcare center
Full-Ride Scholarships – Awarded to participants enrolled in McCook Community College’s Early Childhood Education program. The scholarship includes 15 credit hours, tuition, and some fees for those who upon degree completion plan to stay in the area

Money Talks…and So Do Providers: Program Participants Describe Their Experience

Denise Kalinski, the director of an in-home childcare center, is among those recipients of the Infant Incentive. Denise exhibits a true passion for caring for children from the cradle into childhood. She also said she appreciated the extra income.

Denise said that she enjoys establishing bonds with children early on in their lives.

“I’d rather raise [children],” said Denise when asked what aspects drew her to the program. “They’ll get used to you,” she said. “They ARE your kids! My favorite is when their dad comes to pick them up, and they cry! I say, ‘I LOVE it!’ [The babies] see me a lot. I’m open for ten hours a day.”

Denise has been the proud caregiver to over 100 babies. She doesn’t intend to stop any time soon.

Denise, an in-home provider and C4K Infant Incentive participant, poses with baby Rory!

“My kids are having kids,” she said. In addition to caring for generations of children, Denise said she believes that this relationship is ideal for the children as well.

“It’s a better upbringing,” Denise said regarding infant-provider care. “When they’re an infant, you need to watch them. When you watch the baby, you develop a knowledge, like a mom. You’ll begin to say, ‘That’s the hungry cry.’ Parents will text me to ask how the baby is doing. Trust is there,” she said.

Amanda, one of the Jump Start participants, relayed her positive experience, too. The eight-week program comprises a $3,000 award to early care providers who plan to open a nearby center. In exchange, the attendees will take courses which emphasize budgeting, marketing, and handbook policies.

Jump Start Orientation: McCook Community College faculty member Tyler Esch talks about the Jump Start program to individuals interested in starting a childcare business.

Amanda, who has a nursing background, said she felt some anxiety when she first contemplated opening a childcare center.”

“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “Unless you’re doing the job, you don’t understand how much work you’re putting in, and I’ve never been the director of a center.”

Amanda said that since taking the online courses, she possesses a renewed sense of confidence. “Now, I feel as if I am the right person,” she said. “Before, I had doubts; now I don’t.”

The creation of handbooks course component that Amanda found particularly helpful. Amanda said that, thanks to the policy-driven portion of the class, she is now prepared to deal with many hypothetical but likely situations.

“If a parent pays late or if their check bounces, I know what to do,” said Amanda. “The policies [portion of the course] were by far the most helpful.”

Amanda said she learned a lot from the class’s marketing component as well. “The most helpful part was working on budgeting and thinking of marketing as a vehicle,” said Amanda. “Things started to click; [the course] put us in contact with local people who wanted to help.”

Between the support of the course, her bank, and her community, Amanda said she now feels confident and prepared to open her center.

Finally, we spoke with Kylea Stritt, one of the scholarship recipients currently enrolled in McCook Community College’s Early Childhood Education program. Kylea expressed her gratitude for the scholarship, as she would now graduate debt-free and with a sense of professional clarity.

Kylea said, “This scholarship guaranteed that I won’t have to worry about college debt if I meet all of its guidelines.”

She said another invaluable takeaway is that she was able to thoroughly explore and decide to pursue a career in Early Childhood.

Kylea Stritt is the recipient of C4K’s scholarship incentive. Kylea said, “The scholarship assured me that the career path I chose is the right choice for me!”

“The scholarship assured me that the career path I chose is the right choice for me!” said Kylea. Kylea displayed a similar enthusiasm when she shared her experiences working hands-on with children.

Kylea Stritt is the recipient of C4K’s scholarship incentive. Kylea said, “The scholarship assured me that the career path I chose is the right choice for me!”

“I love seeing their personalities come out the more we get comfortable around each other, and watching the excitement on the kids’ face[s] when they show their parents all of the new things that they learned,” she said.