City of Bellevue’s Assistant City Administrator, Larry D. Burks 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.