The NGage board of directors heard a special presentation from an economic development consultant during the group’s regular Thursday meeting.

Keith Ellis, economic development consultant for Nebraska Public Power District, has more than 30 years working with economic development.

He visited Beatrice Thursday where he discussed what role the board members should play in the group.

“You’ve established yourself as NGage over the last year or so, and with any organization you go through all of those tough times and trials and tribulations of getting organized and you do spend a lot of capital, whether it’s political or human, in your community building that organization,” he said. “I think the thing I’ve learned most about communities that have successful economic development comes from leadership.”

Due to Ellis’ broad reach across the area, board members asked what he’s hearing other communities say about Beatrice.

His response was that Beatrice has a reputation of being successful at attracting businesses dating back 20 years, and much of the state is watching.

“There isn’t any place in the State of Nebraska that has it easy in economic development in today’s world,” Ellis said. “I think the perception is everyone is holding back looking to see what’s going to happen. I think they’re reserving judgment.

“I don’t hear any comments of ‘Is Beatrice going to make it or not?’ or ‘Is Beatrice back to where they were five years ago?’ but I think they’re probably looking, judging because you’ve had such a great success story.”

A large portion of Ellis’ presentation focused on what the 13-member board of NGage can do to help advance the group.

Ellis detailed the importance of sticking to the group’s strategic plan, and said the board member’s personal job experience should play a key role in leading NGage to be a successful economic development organization.

“It begins with some cohesiveness,” he said. “It takes communications. It takes a sustained vision and unbelievable amount of understanding of the resources that it takes and a strategic plan. All of you do that everyday in your business. The things you do and think about to get the job done in your work are the same things this organization has to do. The challenge you have is to apply those experiences.

A board of directors ultimately is responsible for sustaining the organization, leading the organization and demanding and executing the strategic plan. I think that’s the most important thing I can say to you today.”

NGage executive director Bill Demuth, who is approaching one year of being employed by NGage, said he feels the group is heading in the right direction, and has been practicing many of the recommendations Ellis gave.

“I think that the positive news is a lot of this is being done and is growing in terms of the board’s participation and the expectations and the measurements as far as on the objectives,” he said. “To me it’s good to hear. If everyone continues to do what they’re doing, we’ll get better at it.”

Reach Scott Koperski at Follow him on Twitter @ScottKoperski.


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