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.