LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR
As more and more Nebraska communities are widening the conversation about local development, Dividends Nebraska has become busier than ever. Here’s a brief rundown of our recent activities.
DIVIDENDS STRENGTHENS RELATIONSHIPS IN COLUMBUS AND KEARNEY
This past March, Dividends was invited to present to the Legislative Committee of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce about why local chambers should support policies and efforts to advance high-quality early care and learning opportunities. K.C. Belitz, the Columbus Area Chamber President, is a long-standing member of Dividends and a vocal champion for the business case in support of early childhood. It was a pleasure to meet with K.C. and his team to talk about the public policy and business landscape in Nebraska.
Later in March, I met with business leaders in Kearney to talk about Dividends and how early childhood investments help drive economic development. I'm happy to say that conversation resulted in two new Dividends memberships—the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce (represented by Derek Rusher) and the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County (Darren Anderson). My thanks to both Derek and Darren for their interest. We're looking forward to working with them to advance the work and mission of Dividends in Kearney.
BUILDING CONNECTIONS WITH ROTARY CLUBS
While local chambers of commerce and economic development authorities are often our “go-to” venues for engaging business leadership, local Rotary clubs are very well positioned to expand the conversation. During April, Dividends was asked to present to Rotary clubs in Gothenburg and Nebraska City. Like other Nebraska communities, Gothenburg faces significant challenges to its early childhood infrastructure. Local Superintendent Dr. Michael Teahon offered some particularly compelling insights about the questions the Gothenburg Community Development Office (Deb Egenberger) regularly fields from prospective businesses about the availability and quality of local child care. Many thanks to the Communities for Kids initiative of Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, which co-presented with Dividends at the Gothenburg Rotary Club event.
Gothenburg’s concerns were largely echoed in the conversation Dividends had later that month with the Nebraska City Rotary, particularly the need for higher quality local child care options. Building local child care infrastructure is a complex challenge, but happily we’re well positioned to be a resource to this community through Dividends Chair Dan Mauk, who also serves as Executive Director of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corporation.
RED CLOUD CELEBRATES OPENING OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER
On April 20, Dividends Nebraska joined representatives of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, Nebraska Children, the Nebraska Community Foundation and other stakeholders to celebrate the grand opening of Red Cloud’s Valley Child Development Center. While on location, we met with Justin Armstrong (Red Cloud Chamber President), Jarrod McCartney (Tourism and Economic Development Director) and Red Cloud Mayor Gary Ratzlaff, all of whom described the new facility as an important step in the continued economic growth of the community.
As always, if your business, local chamber or community organization would be interested in hearing more about the economic development case for early care and learning, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Keep up the good work, everyone, and many thanks for your continued involvement in Dividends.
Drew K. Theophilus — Director, Dividends Nebraska