Rural Renaissance featured southeast Nebraska highlights

By Nikki Carlson /
Posted Sep 12, 2016 at 2:26 PM
Nebraska City News-Press

Nebraska City was the hub of a large economic development summit Aug. 24 through Aug. 26.

The Nebraska Rural Renaissance’s 2016 Business Leaders’ Summit took place at the Lied Lodge & Conference Center. Attendees and presenters promoted three messages during the summit: “embrace and promote the rural lifestyle,” “grow new and existing businesses” and “create and enhance living wage jobs.” Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Dan Mauk said the summit was a great networking opportunity for southeast Nebraska community leaders.

“I made several new connections that I believe will be beneficial to our area in the future,” Mauk said. “The Rural Renaissance organizers have the influence to invite the companies represented to spend three to four days in Nebraska City. They traveled from Wisconsin, California, Illinois, Colorado and Texas as we, the area community development folks, had ample access to develop new relationships with these companies.”

Nebraska Rural Renaissance in an organization focused on community and business growth in rural Nebraska. Communities who participated in the summit were Nebraska City, Syracuse, Auburn, Tecumseh, Beatrice, Pawnee City and Falls City. Mauk said the participating communities are involved with the Stronger Economies Together/Partners 4 Progress group.

“The communities that participated are involved with SET/P4P so a framework of cooperation exists that may be helpful in future development,” Mauk said. “Any large employer in this region will benefit us all.”

Mauk said community representatives were able to promote their towns through “why locate here” presentations, which also included many company representatives.

“Our region is well-suited for warehousing, distribution, value-added agriculture, light manufacturing, data centers and other industrial development,” Mauk said.

Mauk said guests and companies and that attended the summit included:

  • Ariens Co. Chief Executive Officer and President Dan Ariens;
  • Air Tractor Inc. Vice President of Finance David Ickert;
  • Pritzker Group Private Capital operating principal David Gau;
  • Monolith co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer Rob Hanson;
  • Pellet Technology USA CEO Randy Ives;
  • NioCorp Vice President of Business Development Scott Honan and Vice President of External Affairs Jim Sims;
  • Mike Gibson of Honeywell;
  • Xpanxion LLC. founder, CEO, President and Chairman Paul Eurek;
  • Sen. Dan Watermeier;
  • Nebraska City Mayor Bryan Bequette;
  • And Auburn Mayor Scott Kudrna.

Mauk added that several local elected officials also attended the summit. He said attendees learned a lot about the featured companies and their future development plans.

The principal event sponsors and leaders included: First National Bank of Nebraska Chairman Bruce Lauritzen, DLR Group Senior Principal and Chief Financial Officer Dennis Wiederholt, Nebraska Investment Finance Authority Executive Director Tim Kenny, Great Plains Communications Chairman Mick Jensen, Kutak Rock LLP. attorney Patti Peterson, Omaha Public Power District economic development manager Tim O’Brien, Nebraska Public Power District senior economic development consultant Rick Nelsen and J.J. Palmtag Inc. Real Estate Agency owner and associate broker Janet Palmtag.

Lauritzen talked about opportunities he’s experienced while doing business in rural Nebraska. Mauk said Southeast Community College President Paul Illich, Peru State College President Dan Hanson and former Nebraska Sen. Mike Flood, who is also the owner of Flood Communications, also gave presentations during the summit.

“Mike Flood gave an awesome talk about his experiences doing business in Nebraska City and this region,” Mauk said.

In between the meetings and networking gatherings, guests golfed at ArborLinks or toured Arbor Lodge and the Lewis and Clark Missouri River Basin Visitors Center. Mauk added that about 100 people were involved in some way shape or form throughout the summit.

Mauk said Rural Renaissance had decided to host its summit in Nebraska City after having one in Valentine the prior year to give southeast Nebraska an opportunity to boast about their communities.

“In 2015, Rural Renaissance sponsored its inaugural summit in Valentine, inviting area community leaders to meet with corporate representatives, giving the communities an opportunity to ‘show their stuff’ to those with interests or potential interests in rural Nebraska,” Mauk said. “Renaissance leadership felt the Valentine event was very successful and planned a similar type of event for southeast Nebraska.”