Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC)
Conducted in the city of Beatrice, the Nebraska Business Development Center’s (NBDC) Intensive Business Development Project for Gage County took place in November 2017. Partnering with Gage Area Growth Experience (NGage), the project took an in-depth, personalized look at participants’ businesses to eliminate waste, assess opportunities for growth, and identify strategic needs for each business in a customized plan. Jean Waters, the Deputy State Director of the NBDC, explains the desire to “celebrate the business owners because they are providing jobs in their community. We want to celebrate that fact and help them to be more successful.”
Walker Zulkoski, Executive Director of NGage, stresses the value of partnering with the NBDC because of the confidentiality they cultivate in every business relationship. “We are pretty selective of what we put out to our business community, so the great thing about this event was that it was taken very seriously,” says Walker. Including a variety of businesses that featured manufacturers, retail, food service, and startup businesses, a sense of community was instilled among the participants because of their common goal to improve. “We ended up having twelve businesses, but it was a variety of businesses. It was a really nice mix of companies that took advantage of it and got great reviews afterwards,” says Walker.
Opening with a welcome dinner Sunday night, participants were able to meet and schedule time with the consultants that would be their partners over the course of the Business Development Project. “The focus of the intensive Business Development Project was to bring our consultants to a community for a week,” says Jean. Depending on their needs, each consultant assisted in identifying the key issues to work on during the project for each individual business. Customizing a consultation based on their needs, Monday through Wednesday was spent identifying and attempting to solve each issue the respective businesses faced. Focusing on efficiency in operational processes, human resource practices, and even recommendations on how to improve cash flow, one or sometimes two consultants would go at the same time to visit with each business, only working with two or three in total to give each the individualized attention they need. “NBDC provides a lot of financial consulting, so one of the things that we do really well is look at people’s existing finances and help them understand what the value of the business is and what the comparable peers are spending in areas are spending in certain areas You may be paying more for rent, utilities, or labor than your peers or owner equity might be different,” explains Jean. After the event, every participating business received a comprehensive report about everything that was covered in the Business Development Project so that it may be referred to in the future.
On Thursday, a celebratory dinner was held in honor of the commitment the businesses had made to their community and to the pursuit of excellence. Held at the Black Crow Restaurant, one of the state’s most highly-touted eateries, the dinner was an opportunity for attendees to see a different part of Beatrice and network with fellow business owners. Walker reports that several partnerships forged at the Gage County Business Development Project are still thriving to this day.
Because of the vast improvements the NBDC has made for their fellow business owners, word of mouth has spread like wildfire in the city of Beatrice and the surrounding area of Gage County. “It has created some buzz for them,” says Walker. “It legitimized how good NBDC is at what they do. The businesses have been spreading the word ever since.” The partnership was a mutual success, and as Jean states, “we appreciate the leadership of Walker and NGage to support their existing businesses, which are essential to the economic vitality of the county.”
University of Nebraska Omaha
Omaha, NE 68182