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Back we go to Lincoln for more advocacy this month. Specifically, the annual “Northeast Nebraska Day at the Capitol” is the afternoon and evening of Feb. 26. This event is a collaborative effort of local chambers of commerce from our region, including Blair, Columbus, Fremont, Norfolk, South Sioux City, Wayne and West Point.

The day begins at 3 p.m. with a valuable series of educational sessions In fact, the group pretty much hit a home run with speakers this year.

The afternoon will be kicked off by Barry Kennedy with the state chamber discussing business issues in the Unicameral. Speaker of the Unicameral Jim Scheer will also speak. We’ll hear from Khalil Jaber at Nebraska Dept. of Transportation regarding projects in northeast Nebraska and some general process questions. Dave Rippe, the new director of the Deptartment of Economic Development, will share his vision. Our University Regent Jim Pillen will speak to the group in the middle of a hotly debated University of Nebraska budget process, which will be an important conversation.

All Nebraska senators and other state leaders are then invited to join the northeast delegation for an evening reception at 5:30 p.m. It appears we’ll have a good group of leaders there, including all of our state senators from the region. This is our opportunity to communicate to the senators one-on-one in an informal setting.

Participating chambers identify shared priorities, including interests in these areas:

  • Workforce - supporting measures that help train and recruit individuals to fill workforce shortages.
  • Transportation - ensure that there continues to be a funding mechanism to maintain and grow our state’s infrastructure and complete the expressway system.
  • Agriculture - increase agriculture-friendly environment for economic opportunities.

All employees of members of the Columbus Area Chamber are invited to attend. You simply RSVP to the chamber office at chamber@megavision.com or 564-2769. Locally, Loup Public Power District and Cornhusker Public Power District supports our delegation so Columbus Area Chamber members can attend at no cost.

Northeast Nebraska Day is sponsored by Nebraska Public Power District, Great Plains Communications, Wayne State College, American Broadband and Black Hills Energy.

Board Chair-Elect Dennis Grennan is working on a busy agenda for the annual chamber planning session on March 15. The board and other participants will be weighing some significant questions related to the chamber’s strategic priorities. The board always considers if priorities they may be able to call complete. The long-term nature of these priorities means that we don’t mark them off the list every year and my guess is most will carry forward.

The primary outcome of the planning session is always writing the annual Program of Work for our Chamber. This is the road map that board, staff and volunteers follow for the next 12 months in our work at the chamber of commerce. Beyond the strategic priorities, the proposed Program of Work will include continued effort in the critical area of workforce development.

I know sometimes an organization’s strategic plan takes it’s stereotypical place on the shelf and collects dust. I’m proud to say our board of directors doesn’t allow that to happen. The document that comes out of our planning session really is put into action over the following 12 months. That makes March 15 another really important day in the life of the Chamber.

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