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Michael Sothan

Michael Sothan, right, visits with a representative from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. Community leaders were invited to the event to help improve Gage County.

Community leaders in Gage County were invited to visit with resource providers last week at Southeast Community College.

The project started as a USDA rural development grant that was given to the Heartland Center for Leadership Development.

Walker Zulkoski, NGage executive director, said there have been several community meetings and officials have heard a variety of proposals to improve the area.

“That was really the appeal to USDA for the grant that we were able to involve 13 communities within Gage County,” he said. “They want to see us come out of this grant with multiple projects to improve Gage County…Today, we want to connect the leaders with resources providers that have worked on some of these projects previously. We hopefully want to grow the community.”

Craig Schroeder, Senior Fellow with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, said he assisted with collecting data from different sectors of the community and providing that information in a way that made sense.

“We have expertise in some specific things like leadership development and transition, succession planning, engaging young people in the projects,” he said. “The next phase is working with the leaders to be sure those visions become a reality.”

Regional town hall meetings were held to help community leaders articulate their priorities for facilities that could improve the quality of life in Gage County.

“What we are trying to do in this session is help people connect the community with people that have access to technical or financial resources that could help realize the priority that the community had defined,” said Milan Wall, co-director of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development.

Umeda Islamova, the Lincoln Center Director with the Nebraska Business Development Center from the University of Nebraska–Omaha, was a also part of the event.

“We do government contracting, small business consulting, leadership training and sustainability,” Islamova said. “I help business owners with writing business planning, social media ideas, marketing, or really any kind of problem that they need help with solving.”

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