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Competitive Assessment Result

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Grow Grand Island phase one survey results released

For the first time in decades, the Grand Island business community is undertaking a comprehensive Business Development Strategy to enhance our community's capacity to expand existing businesses and attract new investments and opportunities, advance entrepreneurship and support small business development. According to Cindy Johnson, President of the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce; "Grand Island, like many communities across the nation, is experiencing a tight labor market and impacted by an uncertain global and national economic climate. Although we have held our own, and in fact increased the number of net jobs in our community over the last five years, our focus must be on planning for and ensuring continued prosperity in the next decade."

The Grow Grand Island initiative includes four phases of research and strategic planning which will occur over the next eight months. Market Street Services is coordinating the research, assessments, and strategic planning in collaboration with the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The first phase of research, Competitive Assessment, has been completed and reviewed by the Grow Grand Island Steering Committee, a group comprised of 31 business and community leaders. The Competitive Assessment provides a detailed examination of Grand Island's competitiveness as a place to live, work, visit, and do business. The Assessment highlights seven (7) key stories about Grand Island; these stories will frame the continuing community conversation about Growing Grand Island. These seven stories are:

  1. Consistent Growth and Emergent Diversity
  2. Economic Resilience in Times of Turbulence: Obvious Benefits but Concealed Challenges
  3. Economic Evolution: The Changing Composition of Jobs
  4. Workforce Quality, Availability and Sustainability
  5. Developing a Talent Pipeline: Education and Training Capacity
  6. Business Development Considerations and Site Location Factors
  7. Quality of Life: Attractiveness to Residents and Visitors

Commenting on the process, Johnson said, "This Competitive Assessment is one of four data reports that we will be receiving over the course of the next four months. Other reports will focus on Target Sector Analysis, Marketing Review, and, ultimately, the Business Development Strategy." Johnson adds "the Competitive Assessment highlighted several areas of strength within our community. Specifically, Grand Island created 1,333 net jobs during the 2008-2013 recession and recovery time period – this at a time when our peer communities lost thousands of jobs, and the State of Nebraska's entire job net job growth was just 3,743. This is positive for our community. Our manufacturing economy remains strong with 1,194 new manufacturing jobs added from 2003-2013 and transportation and warehousing employment has expanded as well, outpacing what has happened on a national level."

"The release of this Competitive Assessment is an important moment for Grand Island," notes Grow Grand Island co-chair Brandi Bosselman Lofing, Vice President and Corporate Counsel at the Bosselman Companies. "It represents an objective, outside evaluation of our community and its competitiveness, blended with the insights and opinions of thousands of our own residents. We need this baseline understanding of our challenges and our opportunities before we can start developing the appropriate recommendations to help move this community forward."

Don Smith, Publisher of the Grand Island Independent and Grow Grand Island co-chair added, "We have much to be proud of in Grand Island, but we cannot afford to rest on our past accomplishments. Competition for skilled workers and recruitment of good companies is intensely aggressive and fast-paced in our part of the country.

To remain competitive we must make this the best possible environment for growing good jobs while striving to develop the workforce necessary to serve an increasingly diversified range of employers. A central goal of Grow Grand Island is to accomplish those objectives while supporting our existing businesses, laying the groundwork for them to expand and make deeper corporate investments in the area. We also need to do more to help home-grown businesses start up and succeed. Grand Island's economic foundation was built on entrepreneurialism, hard work, and enterprise. The Assessment helps us, as a community, better understand what barriers to such development exist, and what assets should be leveraged in support a more vibrant, sustainable, and prosperous future."

Brad Mellema, Director for the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, states, "It is encouraging to see that the increased efforts to bring a wide variety of events and activities to Grand Island was recognized by the survey respondents. The Nebraska Danger, National 4-H Shooting Sports, and livestock shows all bring visitors to our community and increase Grand Island's exposure and reputation as a destination."Johnson adds, "Business, educational and community leaders will be discussing the results of the Competitive Assessment as well as the Target Sector Analysis and Marketing Review over the course of the next four months. I am sure these community conversations will result in collaborative efforts to address identified opportunities and tackle challenges. Grand Island has strong leaders who are committed to future growth and development."

Dr. Robin Dexter, associate superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools and Grow Grand Island steering committee member, said the district recognizes the challenges local educators face. However, she and others at GIPS are quick to point out the successes already made by the district. The graduation rate at Senior High has increased from 79 percent five years ago to 82 percent in 2011 and 87 percent in 2013. The district has added services to make sure all students have a path to success - even if the path isn't traditional. The academics at Senior High offer more opportunities than ever before for all students, who can now graduate high school with as many as 41 college credits. One of our local elementary schools was recognized nationally as a distinguished school. Last year a teacher at another local elementary was named one of the best in the nation. The GIPS middle schools have gained national attention for their progressive approach to teaching science. The Career Pathways Institute has become the envy of many communities across the country. "People in Grand Island are correct when they say they have great schools," Dexter said. "They should also know we have high expectations and are not satisfied with where we are."

The final piece of the four phase process, the Business Development Strategy, will be a blueprint for ensuring Grand Island continues as a prosperous community and a place that people want to live, work, and play. This Strategy will include tactical, measurable, and actionable details for each key issue area.

The Grow Grand Island Steering Committee, in collaboration with its funding partners the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, released the findings of the community's Competitive Assessment, which can be found at: www.growgrandisland.com under the "documents" section.

About Grow Grand Island

As part of the community's ongoing efforts to make Grand Island and the surrounding region as attractive and supportive as possible for small business growth, existing business expansions, and new business relocations, a diverse group of partners including the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, and the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau have initiated a process – Grow Grand Island – to further enhance the business development initiatives in the area. This process will result in a new, holistic Business Development Strategy that will help the community and the aforementioned partners focus business development resources in a manner that maximizes efficiency and effectiveness, enhances prospects for quality growth, and increases well-being for business and workers.

Visit www.growgrandisland.com for more information and the complete competitive assessment.

CONTACT:

Grow Grand Island Steering Committee Co-Chairs:
Don Smith - 308-381-9410
Brandi Bosselman - 308-381-2800 ext 134

Grand Island Chamber:
Cindy Johnson, President – 308-382-9210

Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau:
Brad Mellema, Director – 308-381-7500

Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp.:
Randy Gard, President – 308-381-7500


Brandi Bosselman - 308-381-2800 ext 134

Grand Island Chamber:
Cindy Johnson, President – 308-382-9210

Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau:
Brad Mellema, Director – 308-381-7500

Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp.:
Randy Gard, President – 308-381-7500

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