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Home is where the heart is: Urkoski invests back in the Columbus community
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COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS | PROFILE # 66 | SPONSORED IN PART BY EAST-CENTRAL DISTRICT HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Home is where the heart is: Urkoski invests back in the Columbus community

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If there’s one thing Adam Urkoski knew when he left his hometown to attend college after graduating high school, it’s that he’d always return to the place he loves – Columbus.

Columbus is the place where Urkoski grew up, fell in love and ultimately turned into the person he is today – someone dedicated to his community.

It’s while attending Lakeview High School that Urkoski met his future wife, Mandy.

“I asked her to my junior prom. I was a year older than she was,” he noted. “I went to UNO and then she followed me the year after.”

Urkoski lived in Omaha for about seven or eight years and got his degree in finance banking and investment science. He then began what would soon become a 12-year career with Pinnacle Bank.

When an opportunity came up to move back to his hometown in 2012, Urkoski knew he had to go back to the community he loves.

“It worked because A) we knew we wanted to come back home because we still have family here and we wanted to live closer to family and B) I got a promotion and wanted to stay with the same bank,” Urkoski said. “So it was really a win-win situation.”

Urkoski and his wife have two children, a 5-year-old daughter, Nora, and a son named Graham, who will be 3-years-old in September. They also have a third child who is expected to be born in October.

As the vice president of Pinnacle Bank, his professional work consists of commercial and agriculture loans though he focuses mainly on small businesses.

Urkoski’s special skills in finance allow him to better serve his community.

INVESTING BACK INTO HIS HOMETOWN

Urkoski is the money man behind the Columbus Area Future Fund, which is an unrestricted endowment promoting leadership development, entrepreneurship, youth engagement and community philanthropy.

“Basically, our whole purpose is to develop a pot of money to be used forever in the community,” he explained. “We don’t know what the community’s going to need in 20 years but we can build that endowment and get the money in there. Then community leaders 20 years from now… will have that available and spend it however they see fit.”

As an unrestricted endowment, the organization does not have to meet strict guidelines on how to spend money; however, this means a different relationship with donors.

“When people donate to the Columbus Area Future Fund, they donate trust to the community leaders for what’s best for the community,” Urkoski said.

The Fund has a campaign underway with the goal being $500,000 at the end of the year. The Sherwood Foundation will half match donations.

The Columbus Area Future Fund is affiliated with the Nebraska Community Foundation, through which Urkoski enjoys attending peer learning events and getting to know others in the Columbus communities and in other communities, as well.

“It’s interesting to see because you meet with someone from a town like Seward, Nebraska, which is like less than 1,000 people. Their situation’s a lot different than ours here,” Urkoski said. “It’s kind of neat to get to know people and learn what they’re doing in their communities.”

Similarly, Urkoski lends his knowledge as part of his duties sitting on the Council of Officials of the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD), which assists in economic development in northeast Nebraska.

“A lot of what they do is gap financing, businesses that are looking to start a business. If they can’t get qualified on their own, NENEDD can step in and provide some help,” he said, noting that the majority of members are council members and/or board members. “I can offer a little bit different perspective than the city guys because I work at a bank. I’m on the numbers side of what they’re looking for.”

K.C. Belitz, chief operating officer of the Nebraska Community Foundation and a longtime Columbus resident, said he’s known Urkoski since the banker was in high school as Belitz was a coach at Lakeview at that time and still is today. These days, Belitz often works with Urkoski with the Columbus Area Future Fund.

“He is just a great volunteer to work with,” Beliz said. “Whatever he says he’s going to do, he’ll get it done.”

With Urkoski and his wife being Columbus natives who came back to the area in which they grew up, Beliz considers the Urkoski family as a great example of what Nebraska needs.

“It’s fantastic that Adam and Mandy moved back,” Belitz said.

As a father himself, Urkoski is passionate about serving as treasurer for the board of Youth and Families for Christ (YFC).

YFC provides a wide range of opportunities for Columbus youth, such as Bible studies, weekly youth groups at Columbus High and Lakeview, outreach for youth facing adversity and a program for teen mothers who may not have support from home.

“We do whatever it takes to help kids whether the kids are looking for some guidance or some help. Obviously, there’s a ton of different situations, kids need differing levels of help so there’s a lot of different services that YFC provides,” Urkoski said.

He became involved with YFC when the program first started when Urkoski was in high school. What started as a weekly Bible study at school has since grown into a full-fledged organization that provides a wide array of outreach and help to kids.

“The unique number of kids they see in a year, it’ll blow your mind. Everybody’s situation is different,” Urkoski said. “You want to think that every kid can grow up with a supportive family and that’s not always the case. YFC helps them in every way that’s needed.”

Additionally, Urkoski has been involved in Leadership Columbus, an endeavor from the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce in which individuals from different businesses attend a monthly class over nine months on what the city has to offer. Each month has a different topic, such as agriculture, law enforcement and economic development.

He graduated from the program then served as chair for two years.

“What it does is educates you on what Columbus has to offer,” Urkoski said. “We’re a town of 21,000 or 22,000 (people). For a size of our community, I’d like to think that we have a lot to offer.”

Urkoski’s other credentials include general business division chair of the Columbus Area United Way’s yearly campaign, vice chairman of the Columbus Family YMCA, Next Generation Kiwanis and, most recently, the Knights of Columbus.

In his downtime, Urkoski enjoys spending time with his family, as well as boating and swimming activities at a lake, watching Huskers football and playing golf, volleyball and softball.

“Columbus is the place where I was raised; I enjoyed going here. When I was a kid, there were people in the community that worked to make that happen,” Urkoski said. “Me being that generation, I kind of feel like it’s my responsibility to make Columbus a great place for my kids to grow up in and have the same things I did.”

Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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