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News April 29, 2016

Staff Participates in DC Policy & EDA Annual Conferences

NADONENEDD’s Executive and Deputy Directors, Thomas L. Higginbotham, Jr. and Tina M. Engelbart, participated in the 2016 Washington Policy Conference: NADO on the Hill along with over 250 other regional development practitioners, policy makers, and stakeholders in Washington D.C. from April 4th through April 6th. 
Over the course of the three-day event, attendees learned about the latest policy developments and the current political climate on Capitol Hill.  In addition, attendees heard from senior Capitol Hill staffers and government affairs professionals on the legislative outlook for the rest of 2016 and the prevailing political climate in Washington.  The conference also provided opportunities for attendees to meet one-on-one with federal partners during the Federal Agency Networking Reception.
With Senator FischerParticipants also met with members of Congress and their staff to highlight the work regional development organizations are doing to improve the economy and quality of life in their regions and the federal programs that assist them.  Tom, Tina and Karl Elmshaeuser, Executive Director of West Central Nebraska Development District met with senior legislative staff from Congressmen Fortenberry, Smith and Ashford’s offices as well as senior staff from Senator Ben Sasses’ office.  They also had the pleasure of meeting with Senator Deb Fisher along with her legislative assistant to discuss the importance of continued funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), USDA – Rural Development and Economic Development Administration (EDA) programs that are utilized by the communities NENEDD serves.  Another important issue that was discussed was the negative affect the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed overtime rule would have on businesses large and small across Nebraska if the limit was raised. Higginbotham and Elmshaeuser also serve as Nebraska representatives on the NADO Board of Directors.  “Attending the NADO Policy Conference and meeting with our Nebraska representatives is key to building relationships as we continue to help our communities with growth”, said Higginbotham.

Jay WilliamsPhoto: EDA Assistance Secretary Jay Williams’s welcome. Photo courtesy of EDA’s twitter feed
While in D.C., Higginbotham and Engelbart joined over 850 economic development professionals attending the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2016 National Conference which was held on April 7th through April 8th.  The theme of this conference was Collaboration, Innovation and Job Creation which brought a wide variety of speakers from the Mayor of Detroit to the Mayor of Ogden and many other experts to discuss the importance of how collaboration, innovation and job creation opportunities work hand in hand to grow our communities.  EDA has played a major role in a variety of project across the U.S. 

In northeast Nebraska over the past ten years EDA has been a vital source to our communities and NENEDD as an organization. In the past 10 years NENEDD has received $664,840 for our 17-county region to assist our community members in identifying and addressing community and economic development needs. During this same time period, $2,966,279 of EDA funds were used to assist small businesses in creating or retaining 258 jobs.

Staff Attends Training with Janet Ady

Jeff Christensen, Lowell Schroeder, Alyssa Kallhoff and Jan Merrill recently attended a training program designed to provide rural Nebraskan economic development (ED) professionals with information on the latest tools, strategies, and trends in economic development. The training, co-sponsored by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and Black Hills Energy (BHE), featured nationally recognized speaker, author, and consultant Janet Ady, president and CEO of the Madison, WI based firm Ady Advantage. The program provided the latest information on site selection, capacity readiness, and talent strategies.

Economic development organizations (EDOs) are the first line of defense for local businesses, and they are key to helping their communities attract new businesses and industries. “It’s important to Nebraska that our economic development professionals have access to the best training resources available,” said Mary Plettner, Economic Development Manager at NPPD. Cheryl Brandenburgh, Program Manager of Economic Development, Nebraska, at Black Hills Energy, concurred. “Bringing in a nationally recognized expert like Janet Ady, who works with economic development organizations and site selectors around the country, provides Nebraska’s ED professionals with insights and perspectives that will help Nebraska be more competitive with other areas of the country.”

During the daylong workshop, Ady provided an insider’s perspective on how the site selection process works, how it’s changing, and what impact that has on EDOs. She also discussed how the lack of capacity is one of the largest barriers to economic success and offered strategies that EDOs can use to determine their prime path to economic growth. According to Ady, a strong, well-trained workforce is critical. “Workforce and talent availability is a driving factor in most relocation and expansion decisions today,” she told the participants, and went on to share examples of some innovative workforce initiatives from other EDOs around the country that are featured in The Economic Development Talent Toolbox, a book recently published by Ady Advantage.

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is Nebraska’s largest electric utility. NPPD’s Economic Development Team partners with NPPD’s wholesale customers, as well as regional and statewide economic development allies, concentrating on positioning communities and regions for economic growth, assisting with the expansion and retention of existing industry, and/or attracting new business. In addition to providing energy service, Black Hills Energy (BHE) is also heavily involved in economic development to help ensure the communities in their service areas are thriving. Some of BHE’s efforts include investing in opportunities that improve economic development, a community housing assessment, and recruiting new and growing businesses.