NGage Hits the Road for Gage County
27 Nov 2018
NGage Executive Director, Walker Zulkoski, has spent the past several years traveling the country and the world building relationships. These efforts are paying off as more international companies are giving Beatrice and Gage County consideration when selecting a location for U.S. operations. Companies like Hendrix Genetics have chosen to make their home here, in part, because Gage County is present and involved in these conversations. “We travel to be present. If we aren’t traveling to them, someone else is,” commented Walker.
NGage on the International Stage
Rather than primarily focusing on recruiting existing U.S. companies, Walker has taken a different approach. He is working to build on the existing ecosystem of international business that has formed in Gage County. Currently, Beatrice is home to companies based in Korea, Canada, China and the Netherlands. Other companies with international footprints also call Beatrice home. Why? Because Beatrice is centrally located within the United States, offers a low cost of doing business, a skilled workforce, and a business-friendly climate. This makes it easier to locate to an area with a track record of welcoming international operations. As Walker travels the world promoting the region, companies are meeting a local person, shaking hands, and establishing a warm and welcoming relationship that can lead to future business.
Here are some of NGage’s recent trips:
In 2018, Walker traveled to the Toronto area to visit the headquarters of Hendrix Genetics. This trip was important because Hendrix had chosen to make a significant investment in Beatrice. Building upon that relationship is key to future investment and growth. While in Toronto, he also met with prospective companies who are interested in opening a location within the United States. There is an increasing market of Canadian companies looking to expand into the U.S. to grow beyond their Canadian population base.
In 2018, Walker was asked to travel to South Korea with partners from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and the Nebraska Innovation Campus. This trip allowed Nebraska to begin establishing relationships with various trade organizations and meet with prospective companies. These newly formed relationships build a framework for future conversations about the opportunities available in Nebraska.
NGage participated in the Governor’s 2017 trade mission to Japan. As part of the delegation, top-level meetings were held, relationships were built, and conversations took place regarding the benefits of Japanese companies establishing operations in Nebraska. It also allowed for the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Itochu Corporation which made a significant investment, in partnership with Flint Hills Resources, in a bio-diesel plant located in the Gage County Industrial Park.
NGage also participated in the Governor’s 2016 trade mission to China. The trip to China included a day of meetings with the World Group, who recently expanded into a 300,000 sq ft facility in Beatrice. Building upon that success and establishing new relationships are key to growing the economy of Gage County.
Why NGage Travels
International travel is something NGage is fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct. Having the support of a county who understands the value of building relationships and outbound recruiting is crucial. This approach takes time but can be more effective than domestic recruiting because there are fewer communities competing for these same projects. Ultimately, that is why NGage chooses to be on the road – to build relationships that will last a lifetime. This way, when a company is ready to make a move, Gage County is top of mind and a face is connected to the name. The term “Gage County” comes to represent a person, a relationship and a community, rather than a destination on a map.
Additionally, traveling is a way to say ‘thank you’ to those who have and are continuing to invest in Beatrice. As for Hendrix Genetics, “they made a substantial investment in Gage County so traveling to meet them was a nice way of saying thank you. Being able to take them coffee and rolls, then sit down at their North American headquarters to discuss the process of locating in Beatrice was incredibly valuable. It allowed us to listen and learn more about the process, what they went through to get up and running, and how we can improve for other companies. We are a better partner and support to them for having made that effort,” said Walker.
More trips are on the horizon, including another trip to Canada and a Governor’s trade mission in 2020. Stay tuned for more information.