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  • November 2019 Leadership Lincoln County- Economic Development & Tourism

    Leadership Lincoln County (LLC)
    On November 19th, 2019, LLC met at the Nebraskaland National Bank to learn about Economic Development and Tourism.  We started off our learning experience with Gary Person and Cassie Condon from North Platte Chamber & Development Corporation.  
    It was interesting to learn that North Platte has 575+ Chamber Business members and 85 Development Incentive Growth Partners all joining alongside the Chamber and DEVCO to collectively work toward the betterment and future growth of North Platte & Lincoln County. The two organizations have not always worked under the same roof. In 2008 the Chamber of Commerce and the Development Corporation decided to co-locate and share staff to organize as one unit. Although the Chamber and DEVCO have 4 staff members, 14 Directors assist them by setting policy, enforce their By-laws and hire the CEO.  Many committees and support groups also assist the staff and directors, such as Economic Development, Finance Committee, Governmental Affairs, Agri-Business, NP Young Professionals, Chamber Ambassadors and Hostesses, including our very own Leadership Lincoln County group. 
    We learned about the Top Ten Economic Development Priorities, What’s on the Horizon, what they have in the Development Tool Box and most importantly what are the Priority Programs of the NP Chamber and Development Corporation. Leadership Lincoln County can definitely assist with many of the priority programs; volunteerism is an important part of the success and growth of our county. A defining slide closing the presentation was, If you are not growing…You are dying! As members of the LLC, let’s make sure we are inserting breath into the life of Lincoln County and doing all we can to assist with the growth of North Platte and Lincoln County.
    Thank you to both Gary and Cassie for their enthusiastic approach to Lincoln County!  Loving marketing, I was extremely impressed with the “slider” Nebraska’s quality of life meets opportunity for success in North Platte! and the “train” USB as tools to enhance entrepreneurs, businesses and families to consider North Platte and Lincoln County as their home.
    Next we took a bus tour with Mike Jacobson of Nebraskaland National Bank. We drove by and discussed 15 of the Tax Incrementing Financing (TIF)/Economic Development projects in North Platte.  It was very educational and enlightening as we learned to always choose “B” when given a choice and that the Developer is responsible for everything!  Seriously and most importantly, we learned that TIF improves a negative.  I appreciated Mike’s narrative of how the program works and also how he explained and answered some misconceptions I’m sure many of us had regarding how the TIF Program affects our local taxes and works overall. There are many great things happening in North Platte, thanks to the TIF Program. 
    After our bus tour, we headed back to Nebraskaland National Bank and Mike talked with us about leadership.  Mike was gracious to share his own leadership story beginning with the influences of his father as he grew up on the family farm.  He learned from his father the importance of asking others, “What should we do today?” From his father’s question, Mike learned the value of being a partner engaged in decisions.  Instilling a partnership approach to the way he leads.  When managers look at employees as real people, it builds a culture where everyone has a job and the resources to do them.  In other words, care about the people who are getting you where you want to go – consider them equity partners. Another piece of advice was – replicate self; hire great people, provide them resources and protect them from the ditches of business.  All of us are made differently, recognize those differences and peg employees for the job. Do the 30-60-90 day performance reviews to ensure their job responsibilities fit them and take away those things that are not a fit and they will become more productive…a WIN-WIN for everyone.
    In closing of this section, a couple of things stand out from Mike’s leadership talk - Negotiator of Success and Divine Guidance were comments he made that struck a cord in the way I think about leadership. Also, laugh at yourself to create a culture of teamwork and winning.  Great people become engaged and want to win!
    After lunch, we heard from Lisa Burke of North Platte & Lincoln County Tourism. Did you know that a tourist is anyone who travels 50 miles or more to a destination and they want to experience their destination?  In Nebraska, tourism is the 3rd largest industry behind Agriculture and Manufacturing. She shared some solid statistics about the impact of travel and tourism in 2018. Five fulltime staff members and a five member advisory board, overseen by the Lincoln County Commissioners govern the Visitor Bureau, which is open 7 days a week. The Visitor Bureau does not use tax dollars; however they receive a 4% lodging tax – 2 % for Promotional Funds and 2% for Improvement Funds.  These dollars are not used for salaries, rent or operating expenses. 
    Their marketing includes a Buffalo Bill personality highlighting all the local attractions and giving his Buffalo of Approval stamp. Many of these attractions rely on volunteers.  Lisa stressed volunteerism and the value of it to our communities.  She also emphasized that tourism is an investment in our community by creating a better life for residents and a better experience for tourists. 
    Next we heard from a Tourism Panel that consisted of seven of the local attractions.  They shared their passion for tourism and its affect on North Platte and Lincoln County as they described their attractions.  Many interesting facts were: over 30,000 guests visit the Golden Spike Tower & Visitor’s Center each year; Muriel Clark of the Visitor’s Bureau stressed the importance of claiming your place on Google and being responsive to your business reviews; Nebraskaland Days was founded in 1965 by Game & Parks and was the world’s first spectators rodeo; the Lincoln County Historical Museum opened its doors on July 4th, 1976, and has been growing ever since; the Grain Bin Antique Town started out of an interest in wooden grain bins and a love of antiques by two friends; and Dusty Trails began as something part-time and has blossomed into a full-time business including cranes, pumpkins, canoes and kayaks and prairie chicken dancing!  
    My takeaways from the Tourism Panel – Be Loud and Proud, spread the word/refer our attractions and THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO IN LINCOLN COUNTY!
    Our day ended with a visit and tour of the Buffalo Bills Scout’s Ranch and Golden Spike Tower – both must sees on a Lincoln County trip!  It was a great dayJ

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