What’s on tap now?

Yesterday we made our announcement that Kristina Volf has joined our team as our Business Development and Marketing Specialist. Kristina brings two years of experience with our organization to the table and a solid understanding of rural economic development principals. Her presence also provides us additional hands-on-deck to address some long-standing needs our business community is telling us. Plus, she’s another (among many) that rural communities CAN and DO bring back their best and brightest. Brain drain ain’t happening under our watch. So, what is on tap for us now?

Number one: Capacity. We simply missed out on too many opportunities with not having enough dedicated staffers to address business development needs in Valley County. Have we been successful in the past two years? You bet…with one caveat. We were totally reactive to what was coming in our door. Now, we have time to sell and recruit more business opportunities to our area, in a way that hasn’t been a solid part of our efforts since the ethanol development in 2006-2007.

What does that mean for our local business community? We will be out in our communities more talking with our existing business ownership about being more competitive and better understanding their needs. We will be expanding our remote offices in Arcadia to twice a month, a wise investment into a very small rural community that is going places.

Also, expect more trainings and workshops for our business community. Recall we’re hoping to win $25,000 in grant funds to develop a community-based eCommerce solution for our business community. That alone will require, if awarded, heavy investment in time and effort to ensure we launch it appropriately -AND- ensure our business community utilizes the tool. If you think we’re kicking rear now, wait until we really get going.

Number two: Marketing. We’ve been sporadic with our efforts to effectively market our area and you’ll see a much stronger push more forward with regard to that in all facets: print, digital and radio. We will continue to develop the resources necessary for our people attraction campaign through this website and Facebook. Expect to see more marketing efforts center around another photo contest, hard copy marketing materials and hopefully by mid-summer, video testimonials of our awesome people in the Loup Valley. You’ll get to meet our very own sunshine pumpers soon.

Number three: Entrepreneurship. Keep your fingers crossed here, as we’ve won $2,500 in seed money to launch an entrepreneurial enterprise in partnership with Central Community College and Ord High School. We are also waiting on a $600,000 capacity building grant that will give us resources to start building our long-awaited entrepreneurship academy this summer. Regardless, you’ll see some announcements coming on the entrepreneurship end by June.

Number four: Capacity. Not to be redundant, but we’re refocusing our efforts where we’ve always been successful – inwardly so. We have significant housing needs (as in we’re woefully short on a range of homes available for both purchase and rent) to address, we have significant growth potential within our existing business community and most importantly, we have a few corporate citizens here in the Ord area that we’ll be having high-level meetings with this summer to determine expansion and innovation plans in our community. We see this as a major opportunity for us as a community and region.

We are also looking at more community development minded projects: we hope to execute on a trail project to Burwell, a hard capital investment into our tourism development efforts. We also want to see our community events executed appropriately and continue on with a summer schedule of good times to be had.

As you can see, the gas pedal is going to be floored for the remainder of the year. We are quite excited about where the summer will be taking us. Hold on for the ride, it’s going to be fun.

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