Archive for December, 2010

Microsoft Workshop

Monday, December 27th, 2010

The Ord Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Microsoft Workshop on Wednesday, January 19 at noon at the Ord Chamber office. Jeff Hasenauer from Intellicom of Kearney will be providing live demonstrations of Microsoft® Office 2010 and Windows® 7. You will also learn how modern PCs and current software can help you get the most value from your technology by providing:

• Fast, reliable, and highly secure experiences for users.
• Diagnostics and troubleshooting tools which help you solve problems yourself.
• Navigation that makes it easy to find and use built-in features.
• High performance, meaning you will spend less time waiting for your computer to catch up with you.

Event attendees will receive a certificate that will allow them to register for complimentary online software training when they purchase Office 2010 and/or Windows 7. Great door prizes will also be awarded.

Registration is free for Ord Area Chamber members and $20 for non-members. Lunch will be provided at no extra cost. The registration deadline is Friday, January 14 at 5:00 pm. Space is limited to the first 30 registrants. For more information or to register for the workshop, contact the Ord Area Chamber office by phone at (308) 728-7875 or by email at



Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

That big number above would be our new population count, as the US Census Bureau has now released the 2010 Census results.  As of April 2010, American can claim 308,745,538 people living here in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.  The Census, as you know, is required under the US Constitution and is super duper important to our work in economic development.  The census count determines our representation in both the state Unicam and the U.S. House of Representatives.  If you didn’t think yesterday’s announcement that a major portion of the US population continues to shift both south and west, you’d be on the wrong end of an argument.

What wasn’t released was a break-down of a county-by-county count, so we don’t know exactly what our population count in Ord and Valley County is.  What do know is this: migration and growth has slowed considerably because of the recession and Nebraska keeps it’s three congressional districts.  Our neighbor Iowa wasn’t so lucky – they lost a seat.  Texas and Florida were big winners, as was the south in general (14% growth!!!).  One thing to keep in mind – whatever happens on a national level, Nebraska state representation will change immensely in 2011.  Expect major gains in the Elkhorn and Gretna areas and major losses in our smallest state legislative districts.

The graphic below is a pretty awesome interactive state-by-state comparison.  We’ll be crowing about our population  numbers, for better or for worse, as soon as we get them.  Keep your fingers crossed in the meantime – either way, these figures are pretty important stuff.

Update: PBS Newshour has a fascinating dialogue and analysis on the population numbers. You can have a peek here.


Support Community Vitality in Valley County

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Valley County Economic Development, the brain-trust (and muscle) behind just about everything you see, read and hear on this website, is asking you for your financial support in 2011.

The future of rural communities rests on the ability to collaborate on projects, programs and methodology that produces viable rural communities that compete in a global 21st Century marketplace.  How can you help to ensure that reality?  By supporting VCED, your financial contribution supports community vitality.  VCED has produced ten years of results that has positioned Ord and Valley County to reap the rewards of a changing economic paradigm.

New Neighborhoods Groundbreaking

How? Let our results speak for us – in 2010 alone, Valley County Economic Development accomplished these vital projects:
- Successful launch of (55,000 pageviews in 7 months!!!)
- Successful groundbreaking of $9.4 million New Neighborhoods Housing Development
- $300,000 REDL&G Grant won for Valley County Courthouse Renovations
- $250,000 CDBG Owner Occupied loan funds fully allocated and awarded for community housing rehabilitation
- $25,000 JOBS Grant won
- $68,000 in sales tax funds loaned to local businesses
- Production of 2011 ESCAPE to Loup Valley Travel Guide

Valley County Courthouse Renovations Ribbon Cutting

Our community collaboration has been successful and infectious.  Our programs are emulated around the country by communities similar to us.  They also help garner attention for our little slice of the Good Life as well.  Ord and Valley County’s work has been mentioned in over 20 different publications that include national, regional and state news coverage in:
- Silicon Prairie News: Silicon Prairie News testifies on behalf of Nebraska Innovation Act
- Omaha World Herald: Encourage economic potential of rural entrepreneurs
- ReImagine Rural – Pumping Sunshine: the Ord, NE way
- Valley County Sets New Paradigm for Growth
- Center for Rural Affairs Newsletter: REAP Helps Small Rural Businesses Grow
- Association for Enterprise Opportunity
- KHAS-TV: Ord revitalizes itself with a fresh workforce.

Your tax deductible sponsorship helps to support the operations and staffing needs at VCED.  The staff, board and community partners are *essential* the accomplishment of these tasks.

Our sponsorship brochure can be downloaded here.  We hope you’ll consider supporting VCED and your community – the future of Ord and Valley County depends on you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Caleb Pollard – Valley County Economic Development from Nebraska Entrepreneur on Vimeo.



Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Our friends from the Center for Rural Affairs are kindly reminding our rural entrepreneurs and economic development community that MarketPlace registration is coming up.  MarketPlace is a statewide conference for entrepreneurs, dreamers and economic developers to network, share ideas and learn how to grow their local rural economies.  Our partners over at CFRA have details below and you can register here.

It’s Time to Register for MarketPlace!
- Are you an existing small business owner?
- Are you thinking about starting your own business?
- Are you an economic developer, wanting fresh new ideas to enhance your communities and foster new business development?
- Are you in high school or college wondering what opportunities there are to start your own business?
- Are you a farmer or rancher who wants to grow your business outside of the box?
- Are you a service provider trying to connect with your target audience?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then consider attending the 5th Annual MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success Conference in Kearney, NE on February 22nd and 23rd!  At the conference, you can expect to learn about strategies and ideas that cover:
- Business Development
- Innovation
- Agriculture
- Community Development
- Marketing & Communications
- Financial
- Youth Policy

MarketPlace will also host a Positively Nebraska Reception with networking opportunities, a Nebraska Products Store, door prizes and more during the event.  For details on the event or to register, visit


Business Loans Due

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Reminder alert!  We have two great 0% interest (yes 0% interest) loan programs and their quarterly application deadline is coming up.  New to this year?  Websites!  Have a look at the info below and let us know how we can help!

Old Ord Theatre Neon Sign(Ord, NE) – Interested in sprucing up your business in 2011?  January 3rd, 2011 is the application deadline for two business development loan programs.  Loan applications for the Ord Downtown Façade Improvement Program and the Valley County Business Corridor program are due Monday, January 3rd.  Each program provides low interest loans for façade improvement, property consolidation or general property improvement for business owners in Valley County.  New to the Ord Downtown Façade Improvement Program is businesses ability to access to up to $5,000 at 0% interest to development.

Applications for program can be picked up at the Valley County Economic Development office, via email ( or from the web:  Applications should be returned to the Valley County Economic Development office by 5pm on January 3rd.


Innovation and Entrepreneurship – An Analysis

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Recently, the Nebraska Legislature released a new report on innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Nebraska.  The report was authorized by LB 1109 – the Innovation and High Wage/High Growth Act; recall Valley County Economic Development testified in support of this research effort back in February of 2010.  The commissioned study by the Legislature looked at some very specific, very important elements of economic growth and opportunity in all of Nebraska.  The study was led by Invest Nebraska, an organization known for its venture competition efforts, like East-2-West Venture Competition this past month.

Nebraska State Capitol

photo by Tim O'Brien

The results were rather telling about the dearth of economic development programs and incentives specifically created to facilitate entrepreneurial growth.  The recommendations to overcome these opportunities, however were quite tangible to grasp.  The report offered 17 recommendations that you can read on page 7 to 9 here.  I’ve listed a few that I think are easily usable for rural Nebraska below:

- Recommendation #1: Create a Statewide Economic Gardening Program
- Recommendations #3-5: Create several different types of venture competitions
- Recommendation #11: Improve Micro-lending Effectiveness and Targeting
- Recommendation #14: Rural Entrepreneurship Focus

What excites me the most is that policy makers *finally* seem to grasp that a mono-programmatic emphasis on smokestack chasing is NOT the only way to grow state and local economies.  To see a significant high-level commitment to the programming and policy that can more equitably assist rural communities has me very hopeful significant changes are coming.

Make note that this report also comes on the heels of a report released by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development as well.  A significant portion of DED’s report echoes much of what the Nebraska Legislature articulated in their recommendations from the report mentioned above.

So now we have two high level reports levied by some game changers at the statewide level.  I know, as do our readers out there, that a report is only as good as the people who put action and policy behind it.  The challenge will be – do we want this for our future?  I think the Great Reset (as Richard Flordia calls our national economic recovery) articulates that economic development must change and the results from these two studies presents a new blueprint in which to follow.  These high-level arguments, significant changes in old-school economic development theory, presents a very hopeful future for rural communities, *if* they create the capacity on the back-end after these changes are carried out.

The trick will be what actually happens?  In Nebraska, we’re known for producing results.  I’m hoping that on these issues, we put the money where our mouth is.

Silicon Prairie News – LB1109 Testimony Debriefing


The Festival of Trees and The Ord Option

Monday, December 6th, 2010

On Thursday, December 9, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church, join the community at the Festival of Trees for a supper benefiting Make Christmas Happen.  The supper will be hosted by Valley County Health System employees.  Admission to the event is one canned food item which will be donated to the local food pantry.  Many trees have been decorated by local businesses and organizations and you can vote for your favorite.  The winning organization will receive $50 to be donated to Make Christmas Happen in their name.  A free will donation will be accepted, benefiting Make Christmas Happen.

During the Festival of Trees celebration, you can receive triple punches on your Ord Option cards at local participating businesses.  For a single purchase of $5 or more, you can receive three initialed boxes on your Ord Option card.  Use or present you Ord Option shopping bag to receive three additional initialed boxes, for a total of six!  Triple punches are only applicable on December 9, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.  At the Festival of Trees supper, present your Ord Option card with a purchase made that evening to be entered in a drawing for $150 in Ord ChamberBucks.  The drawing will take place at 7:15 pm at the Festival of Trees.  You must be present to win. Congratulations to last week’s Festival of Trees Ord Option winner, Pam Kokes as well as November’s Ord Option winner, Kathy Riebschlager.

December’s Ord Option drawing will take place on Thursday, December 30 for $500 in Ord ChamberBucksRemember, double punches can be received throughout the entire month of December!  For more information on the Festival of Trees or the Ord Option campaign, contact the Ord Area Chamber of Commerce at (308) 728-7875 or visit


News from the Valley

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

December already?!  That means our monthly News from the Valley is out – you can have a look here.  In this month’s update, you can read up on:
- New Neighborhoods Project
- Valley County Boards Summit
- Chamber Business News
- Buy Local: the Ord Option
- Sales tax update
- Website Funding
- Website Statistics
- Photo of the North Loup River

Enjoy this month’s latest offerings.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!