Smiths Recognized at 2010 Industry Recognition Event
Jane and Randel Smith, Brownville, were recognized Tuesday, May 11, for their accomplishments and dedication to Brownville and Nemaha County.
The Smiths were recognized at the Industry Recognition Luncheon at Arbor Manor Steakhouse, Auburn.
“There are great things happening in Brownville. We didn’t do it singlehandedly. Our family and friends get involved,” Jane Smith said.
Auburn Mayor Bob Engles said that Brownville has invented and repeatedly re-invented itself. That has enabled Brownville to maintain its position as Nebraska’s oldest town and one of the most progressive communities in Nebraska, Engles said.
“No community in the state has drawn upon its cultural and historic heritage to the extent Brownville has,” the mayor said.
Engles recognized such Brownville attractions as Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery; the Brownville Concert Hall; the Brownville Village Theatre; Spirit of Brownville river excursion boat; the Captain Meriwether Lewis Steamboat Museum; The Lyceum Cafe & Bookstore, which was the Smiths’ idea and The River Inn Resort, a floating hotel.
Richard Baier, Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) director, was guest speaker. Baier talked about the economy, housing, economic development, tourism and business development.
Baier said that Nebraskans are fortunate that the state’s unemployment is below the national average.
“We need to be appreciative of where we are at. Nebraska is in good shape,” Baier said.
Companies are hiring, jobs are coming back and people are making investments, he said.
“We have to deal with budget issues. The Legislature is working on that. It’s a significant challenge. We need to be cognizant of that,” Baier said.
In housing, Baier said that officials are clear and conscious about watching housing starts. He said that values of homes are increasing and land values are beginning to level out.
“We need to be cognizant about providing housing over all spectrums, how to get young families into their first homes and priorities about what first-time homebuyers are looking for,” Baier said.
In business development, Baier said there are a lot of requests for information. Areas seeing a lot of activity include renewable energy, solar and geothermal. He said that Nebraska is fortunate to have an affordable operating environment, but there are training challenges to work on. Labor force is a huge issue, Baier said. State officials are investing a lot of money in site efforts. Nebraska Advantage has made Nebraska competitive in the marketplace, Baier said.
In tourism, Baier said that Brownville officials have created a model for tourism in Nebraska. Officials need to know how to market and create tourism long-term, he said.
“Tourists are looking for an experience. They want to be part of a living, breathing experience. We need to change the model and build attractions that people want to go to,” Baier said.
Nebraska officials are working with officials of a national consulting firm to look and evaluate new target industries, innovation, creativity, and strategies in the workforce and population, Baier said.
Baier thanked State Sen. Lavon Heidemann of Elk Creek for his service.
“He’s got one of the toughest jobs in Nebraska. He’s a real leader in the Legislature. He’s done a great job. We’re fortunate to have him represent Southeast Nebraska,” Baier said.
Major Employers Recognized
Major job creators in Auburn and Nemaha County were recognized.
Engles thanked Steve Skaggs of Ariens Company for contributing to economic development in Southeast Nebraska. Engles said that Magnolia Metal Corporation was “an extremely valuable member of our business community.” Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) serves residents of 91 of Nebraska’s 93 counties. “Their presence and value in Nemaha County cannot be underemphasized,” Engles said.
The mayor said that he was disappointed when Armstrong Cabinets Products, Inc. closed, but officials worked closely with officials of various state agencies to assist the displaced workers. Plans are to recruit a major job creator and officials will continue until successful in replacing Armstrong, Engles said.
“We are committed to get a job creator replacment for Armstrong. With help from NPPD and Nebraska DED, we will get the job done,” he said.
“The only constant in economic development is change. It’s an ongoing process,” Engles said.
Engles recognized members of the Auburn High School Future Business Leaders of America. Five members and adviser Teresa Hahn attended. They were: Nathan Allgood, president; Hannah Harmon, vice president; Michael Wellman, community service representative; Martha Spangler, news reporter and Kerri Comstock, historian.
Allgood reviewed the chapter’s activities in the past year. He thanked the officer team and advisers. Allgood thanked community members for their support.
“It’s important that our young people get involved with business. We need youth willing to step up and take responsibility,” Engles said.
Engles thanked Auburn Rotary members for being hosts. He introduced important guests who have done a lot for Auburn, Nemaha County and Southeast Nebraska.
Engles said that Southeast Nebraskans and Nebraskans are fortunate to have Heidemann as chair of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.