More than 130 economic development professionals descended upon western Nebraska Aug. 25-27 when Sidney hosted the Nebraska Economic Development Association (NEDA) annual conference.
NEDA is an association of professional economic developers dedicated to the prosperous growth of Nebraska’s business climate. Its purpose is to foster economic development in the state, encourage the advancement of the expertise of its members, and foster cooperation among economic development professionals.
The three-day event kicked off with a guided tour of historic downtown Sidney and tours of local businesses.
During the conference, attendees heard from a variety of experts and local economic developers about the successes and challenges facing Nebraska. Topics included placemaking, shovel-ready site development and workforce development. Attendees also received a state legislative update and an update from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
Nationally recognized economic development consultant Janet Ady, of Ady Advantage, talked about rural talent in a post-Covid world.
“In the timeline of economic development, we are at a very auspicious moment,” she said. “We’re coming off a global disruption that has had unequal effects on people, industries and locations. We’re seeing unprecedented adoption rates of new behaviors that impact how people and businesses make location decisions.”
Her talk covered such topics as talent, productivity, automation, the work-from-home trend, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Each and every economic developer is in the unique position to help shape his and her community and region not
just for the next year, but for the next generation,” she concluded.
Brian Vasa, NPPD Economic Development Consultant/Account Manager and current NEDA president, welcomed a return to an in-person conference after a year of virtual events.
“It’s just a godsend that we’re able to be here,” Vasa said. “Meeting in person is how marketing and economic development flourishes.”
Several awards were handed out during the conference, including the NEDA Lifetime Member Award, which was given to recently retired NPPD Economic Development Manager Mary Plettner.