Our Leadership Lincoln County group focused on Tourism & Economic Development for our December session on December 15. We first met at the Quality Inn and listened to a presentation by Lisa Burke from the Visitor’s Bureau about North Platte & Lincoln County Tourism. We learned that tourism is defined by travel 60-90 miles away from home regardless of the purpose for the travel. She told us about how the Visitors Bureau is funded, what they use the funds for, and how they help local businesses involved in tourism with their marketing.
After a break with some delicious pastries sponsored by Quality Inn & Sandhills Convention Center we had a tourism panel. The panel consisted of Jennifer Priest from the Tourism Advisory Council, Kirsten Parker from the Golden Spike Tower, Don Kurre from Railfest, David Fudge from NebraskaLand Days, Muriel Clark from the Visitor’s Bureau, Jim Griffin from Lincoln County Historical Museum, and Lori Clinch from Antique Grain Bin Town. They talked about volunteer opportunities, what they do, how they are funded, and what their plans are to expand in the future. It was interesting to hear about everything going on in North Platte and about the people making new exciting things happen for both residents and visitors.
Next we traveled to the Lincoln County Historical Museum where we ate a Qdoba lunch sponsored by Coldwell Banker, KJ’s Construction, and Qdoba. We then toured the museum with Jim Griffin. He showed us the oldest exhibit in the museum, which was an 8 million year old sea turtle! The museum also features and talks about mammoths found in Lincoln County, a large collection of arrowheads and stone tools, a model of North Platte as it used to look like, and a large display about the North Platte Canteen. Did you know they served 3,000-5,000 soldiers per day and about 6 million total? I encourage everyone to check out the museum, there was a lot of interesting things about the history of the area and the town itself. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time or weather to visit the other buildings out there but I am excited to go back and check them out sometime!
Leland Poppe from Great Western Bank came by the museum and explained the Community Reinvestment Authority and Tax Increment Financing to us. He made it more interesting by having a select few of us “volunteer” to act out what the process would be to secure this type of financing. We learned that this type of financing is a way for the town to secure new business development in the city that would not have otherwise happened. We will now always have the term “blighted area” burned into our minds.
The Tourism Advisory Council sponsored our break of a popcorn snack then we kept going with a panel about economic development in North Platte. This panel consisted of Jim Hawks from the City of North Platte, Gary Person from NP Chamber and Development, and Megan McGown from NP Chamber and Development. They each went into detail about who they are and what they do. Megan had a good point about how if we stay positive about our community and work to improve our town instead of complaining about it, we can help it grow and prosper. The main focus of the panel was the struggles, opportunities, and successes of housing and business development in North Platte.
After spending 10 minutes painfully attempting to scrape our windshields in the cold and wind, we headed to the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center. After warming up with some coffee and cocoa, we got our picture taken with “Spike” the tower’s mascot. Kirsten and Sydnee divided us into groups and gave us a tour while we looked for clues for the “Holidays around the World” scavenger hunt. Did you know boats are decorated in Greece instead of trees? We had already toured Bailey Yard for a prior session, but it was really neat to see it from above. At the end of the tour, we were given a copy of our picture and a treat for finishing the scavenger hunt.
Overall it was a fun and informative day! Thank you to the Leadership Lincoln County committee and the Chamber for putting this together for us! Maybe next time we can have some good weather?
Great Western Bank