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The Rural Developer - 3rd Quarter 2010

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3rd Quarter, August, 2010

In this issue:

Letter from the President

Conference Highlights

Rural Resources

Membership Highlights

Professional Development

Training Opportunities

2010 Directors & Officers

Rick Nelsen, President
Eric Phillips, First Vice President
Tom Lambrecht, Second Vice President
Dana Baker, Secretary-Treasurer
Henry Fischer, Past President
Jada Ackerman
Jim Bausell
Brad Captain
Bobby Davis
Ron Ebenkamp
Lori Fischetti
Rand Fisher
Clare Gustin
Randall Jones
Chad Lowder
Chris Martin
Hondo Powell

Jim Vermeer

NREDA Staff:

Executive Director
Lynn Harkin

Membership dues, billing, and registrations:
Kelly Kipping

Lynn Harkin, Executive Director

Rural Developer:
Shawnna Silvius

NREDA Conferences:
Sharyn Baudler

NREDA Web Site:
Darcy Watson

Useful links:

Statistics & Demographics
Economic Development Courses
Government Sites
Business & Economic Information
Regional Economy
National Economy
Sites to Help You Find Things
Search Engines

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NREDA members appreciate sharing ideas, suggestions, and development solutions. What's going on in your area? Is there a resource or solution you think other member should know about? Let us know:

Member Updates
Update your membership information at

ED 411
Get support and feedback on your rural development questions. ED 411 links you with a fellow NREDA member who is ready to help you.
Get answers now.

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Effective Lobbying
Download the NREDA Guide to Lobbying your Legislators for advice on how to approach your leaders and present rural development issues in a way that nets results.

Post a Job
NREDA members and non-members may post a position on the NREDA Web site and have a one-time email distribution about the job to NREDA members.
Get more info.

Job Openings
View postings for economic development positions.

Get involved
Serve on an NREDA committee and share your ideas for strengthening your organization through membership, training, conferences and more. More info.

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By Rick Nelsen, CEcD, NREDA President

August is here and school is starting. It was a bittersweet summer for the Nelsen household as it may have been the last one our oldest daughter spends with us. My oldest two will be returning to college and my youngest will be a junior in high school, where did time go? At least two of them have designs on returning to a rural setting when they complete college which illustrates to me one of the reasons we are involved in rural economic development—to provide the opportunity for our kids to come back and live and work if they so choose. My involvement in NREDA has helped me recognize that there are many "bright spots" in rural America that my daughters will get to choose from when they decide where they want to live. Keep up the good work!

Del Boyette
I am still digesting some of the things I learned in Portland at our annual conference (besides take a compass when you hike and don't be too nice to a homeless person) that apply to my personal development and my job. You will be reading some highlights from the conference elsewhere in this newsletter but I was particularly interested in the examples shared by our keynote speaker Ron Kitchens as well as Del Boyette's thoughts on the basic elements of an effective rural economic development program. Sometimes we forget some of the "little things" that prove important later. The examples that our telephone cooperative panelists shared about what they were doing to support economic development was also relevant and interesting...our communities need to have the infrastructure in order to have the capacity to compete.

We also announced that we are looking to make better utilization of social media to communicate with our members under the leadership of Niki Knox (Georgia EMC). I encourage every member to check out NREDA on Facebook and on LinkedIn and help us build a better framework for our members to communicate. If you get a message saying I want to connect with you or be your friend, please accept it. I am woefully behind my daughters in the numbers of online friends I have.

Congratulations to Rachel Beaty Crickmar who was elected to the NREDA Board of Directors and Bobby Davis, who was elected to a second term on the Board. Also congratulations to Clare Gustin who was elected to serve as Secretary-Treasurer on the Board. They will officially begin their new terms on December 1st. Special thanks to Henry Fischer who will rotate off the Board as Past President. We appreciate all of his service to the organization. Till next time!


Rick Nelsen, CEcD
2010 NREDA President


"Sustainable Development in Rural America"

NREDA Members at Breakfast
Nearly 100 gathered at The Benson Hotel in Portland, OR from July 11 - 13, 2010 for the Annual NREDA Conference to learn about subjects related to Sustainable Development in Rural America. Presentation overview articles are featured throughout this newsletter and will also be shared in the 4th quarter publication. Members are encouraged click here to access presentation PowerPoints and handouts. We hope you enjoy some of the picture highlights.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR - You won't want to miss it next year!
July 10 - 12, 2011
Nashville, TN, Union Station

Bobby Davis
Special thanks to our gracious and generous sponsors and hosts, to all the presenters, and to all the individuals and committees that worked to put together another outstanding event! Contributions from these sponsors make our events possible, therefore we want to recognize them again and express our appreciation:

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative Inc.- Georgia Electric Membership Corporation - GVNW Consulting, Inc. - National Rural Utility Co-op Finance Corp.(CFC) - Wabash Valley Power Association
Berkeley Electric Cooperative - Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation - Buckeye Power - Great River Energy - Hoosier Energy REC - Iowa Area Development Group - Lumbee River Elective Co-op - Nebraska Public Power District - Tennessee Valley Authority
Associated Electric Co-op, Inc.
Tri-State G&T - Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) - Corn Belt Power Cooperative - East River Electric Power Co-op - National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) - Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO) - RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship - South Carolina Power Team - Sunflower Electric
Tri County Electric Cooperative - Union County Economic Development Parntership

"Community Capitalism -
Lessons From Kalamazoo & Beyond"

Submitted by Henry Fischer, NREDA Past President

Ron Kitchens
NREDA featured keynote speaker Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First, a regional economic development organization serving the Greater Kalamazoo area of southwestern Wisconsin. He is also the general partner of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund, which started much the same as the Science Initiative of Central Minnesota but has grown to become a $50 million regional venture capital fund that has attracted eight bioscience companies to the region. They operate the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator to help bring new medical devices to market; and the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, to serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurs. The First Angels investment network also provides working capital and equity to help launch new businesses in the region.

Kitchens shared exerts from his book titled, Community Capitalism, Lessons from Kalamazoo & Beyond. He explained that Kalamazoo is in the center of a nine-county region of Southwest Michigan, bordered by Lake Michigan on the west, Indiana on the south, Grand Rapids to the north, Lansing to the northeast and Detroit and Grand Rapids to the east. In fact, Kalamazoo is located 150 miles east of Chicago and 140 miles west of Detroit.

The city has a population of 76,000 and the population of the region is over 300,000. It's a regional education center, based on Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College, with over 26,000 students. Then there's the Kalamazoo Promise. Every resident graduate of the Kalamazoo Public Schools is provided with a scholarship for up to 100% of tuition and mandatory fee costs for four years at any public university or community college in Michigan, starting with the class of 2006. Books and room and board are not included. There is no residency requirement; they are not required to move back after graduation. Twenty-four cities around the U.S. have copied the program.

NREDA Recognizes Hall, Georgia EMC and Rose with Leadership Awards

Dennis Hall
The Rural Economic Development Leadership Award recognizes outstanding leadership in the field of rural economic development. NREDA seeks to honor deserving individuals across America. Nominees may be economic development professionals or rural electric cooperative/rural telephone staff or board members. Nominees are those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in an economic development project resulting in the improvement of the quality of life, creation of new jobs, and opportunity for growth and development in rural America.

Dennis G. Hall, CEcD, CKAE, Economic Development Manager for the Nebraska Public Power District in Columbus, Nebraska was honored with the very prestigious "2010 NREDA Rural Economic Development Leadership Award" during the Awards Luncheon at the NREDA Annual Conference held in July in Portland, OR. Hall was chosen by a national selection committee representing electric and telephone cooperatives from across the nation. Dennis Mingyar, NREDA Awards Chair says, "Dennis Hall is the epitome of a rural economic developer. His vision, leadership and guidance to the profession have made him a source of knowledge and guidance. He is the type of individual that other economic developers look to emulate and follow. He is someone we turn to with our questions and our needs."

Georgia EMC Award Sherry Rose

Also recognized as recipients of the President's Award were Georgia EMC and Sherry Rose with Wabash Valley Power Association due to their commitment to Rural Economic Development and leadership within NREDA.

Sustaining Development Through Cooperative Businesses
Submitted by Linda Salmonson, NREDA Conference Committee & Ron Ebenkamp, NREDA Board Member

NREDA members had the opportunity to hear Adam Schwartz with the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) in Washington, D.C. and Maura Schwartz with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia, WA share an informative and educational session on establishing a business in communities using cooperative business models during the Annual Conference. The session offered an overview of the over 29,000 cooperatively owned businesses throughout the country and how their member owners were able to collaborate to provide access to products and services that would not have been possible or practical under other legal structures.

According to Schwartz, the cooperative business model offers a value system and enables local owners to aggregate their products, services or buying power to achieve economies of scale. Especially effective in rural areas, cooperatives have a strong foothold in urban areas as well. One can purchase everything from cranberry juice (Ocean Spray) to utilities (electric, telecom and water); as well as aggregating purchases of hardware (ACE) and housing using cooperatives.

Adam and Maura presented studies on community owned organizations where the member owners have a real stake in the success of the business. The discussion included various "cooperative" businesses several owners have established such as a funeral, food, grocery and home care services. Some businesses that have partnered and formed have found ways to meet the needs of the community and to survive during recessionary times proving the adage, "where there is a will there is a way".

Maura Schwartz stated, "Through the cooperative model of shared ownership and governance by democratic control, cooperatives allow local owners to develop thriving businesses that are vested in the community (they don't move away). They give the owners a cooperative advantage in the market place."

The take away from this session is that even though many NREDA members work for cooperatives and belong to cooperatives, we may not necessarily think of the cooperative business model when we are pursuing economic development in our communities. The session illustrated how the cooperative structure may be the right structure for both new and expanding businesses and offered tips and contacts to help with local cooperative development. To learn more about business cooperative models, visit or

Economist Points to Signs of Life
in the U.S. Economy

Submitted by Henry Fischer, NREDA Past President

Economist Dr. Chris Kuehl of Armada Corporate Intelligence closed this year's NREDA Annual Conference offering a delightful and entertaining overview of the worldwide economy, noting the problems experienced in Greece and how events and U. S. government policies are shaping the climate for rural development across America.

Kuehl is the co-founder and managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, a firm that consults with major clients worldwide on strategy, competitive intelligence, business analysis and economic forecasting. Kuehl is the editor and primary writer for several publications that are widely distributed to chambers of commerce, world trade centers, manufacturers and international business organizations.

Dr. Kuehl observed that the U.S. economy is experiencing a modest 1.5% growth rate. "It's not a recession but it feels like a recession," he said. The federal government has had limited success on the job creation front while amassing a huge national debt. He noted that 35 states require balanced budgets; and he predicted that state programs will go away and never come back. A combination of radical spending cuts, higher taxes and some kind of modest growth is in the offing.

On the workforce front, Dr. Kuehl said we're not training people to do the jobs necessary in a global economy. "The average age of a first class skilled welder is 61," he said. When welders retire, we need to make sure there are enough welders to take their place.

As Dr. Kuehl concluded his presentation, he left the attendees with thought provoking "Big Issues" to keep an eye on including the following:
  • Unemployment - When will it drop from the near double digits?
  • Inflation - When does this become a real concern?
  • Interest rates - When do they start to gain and what will prompt the rise?
  • Debts and deficits - How do we pay for all this and was "this" worth it?
  • Regulation - Are we jumping from the frying pan to the fire?
  • Trade - Will the US continue expanding its exports?
  • Consumer spending - Will the shopper come back strong?
  • Housing - Is this the engine and will it come back to life?

For more information, contact Dr. Kuehl directly at (816) 304-3017 or electronically at


National Broadband Plan Concerns for Sustainability
Submitted by Lori T. Fischetti, NREDA Board Member & Vice President, Association Services, NTCA

As you may know, this is a critical time for rural communities in relation to telecommunications. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a national broadband plan (NBP) that has some elements of concern to rural telecommunications providers. Those independent companies that provide services in your communities have banded together through the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) to communicate to members of Congress and to FCC leadership to protest particular aspects of the plan that are harmful to their sustainability.

We invite you to participate in this effort to ensure that the FCC does not create new regulations imposing limitations on rural telecom providers. The way we can sustain and help communities thrive is through quality, high-speed broadband for all Americans. If you are interested and willing to submit a letter that you may adapt to your style to send to your rural telecom company to demonstrate your support and commitment to the advocacy efforts, click here. If you have questions, please contact Lori Fischetti at 703-351-2013 or Dana Baker at 719-594-5818. You are also encouraged to review the National Broadband Plan Resource Center at the NTCA website ( Thanks for your continued commitment to rural America.

NREDA Joins the Social Media RAVE

During the NREDA Conference, President Rick Nelsen announced that the NREDA board seeks to make better utilization of social media to communicate with members under the leadership of Niki Knox (Georgia EMC). "I encourage every member to check out NREDA on Facebook and on LinkedIn and to help us build better tools for our members to communicate. If you get a message saying I want to connect with you or be your friend, please accept it. I am woefully behind my daughters in the numbers of online friends I have." Connect to the social media icons for Facebook and LinkedIn located on the NREDA homepage - look at the bottom of the left column. Your request will be sent to our site administrators for approval; then we hope you will use these tools to their potential.

Wealth Creation, the Triple Bottom Line Balanced Approach to Rural Development

Here is a link to publications of interest to those interested in wealth creation in rural areas. Experience and research suggests that a triple bottom line, balanced approach to rural development not only benefits the economy, but also positively influences the environment and social assets. To learn more, visit a project of the Ford Foundation.

Application Deadlines - USDA Funds Available

Contact your USDA office within your state with any questions and/or visit Details here >>


NREDA Member Publishes "A Strategic Approach To Economic Development"

Book Cover
Dr. David Kolzow, a member of NREDA and an economic development consultant for over 35 years, has recently published a book entitled: A Strategic Approach to Economic Development. This book, based on extensive strategic planning experience with states, regions, and communities, has been published by Taimerica Management and is available in an electronic version or hard copy at It is designed to be a practical and easily implemented guide to effective strategic planning, with its focus on visioning, goal-setting, developing strategic actions, and measuring performance and outcomes. The appropriate role of local leadership is clearly defined, and approaches are recommended for effectively engaging these stakeholders. The tools and techniques that are presented and readily used have proven themselves over numerous strategic planning processes. Dr. Kolzow's earlier book, Strategic Planning for Economic Development, was a best seller for the American Economic Development Council but is no longer in print. To reach Dr. Kolzow directly, e-mail

Young Nebraska Developer and Vibrant Rural Community Thrive
(Source: RUPRI Center for Entrepreneurship, June 2010)

Caleb Pollard
(Back row center)

Over the past five years, Ord, located in Valley County in the north-central part of Nebraska - the first pilot community for HomeTown Competitiveness - has been featured in numerous articles as well as used as an example of successful rural community development at various workshops, conferences and trainings. This community and county has embraced a "Come-Back/Give-Back Approach to Rural Community Building" that is a strategic partnership with the Nebraska Community Foundation, the Heartland Center for Leadership Development and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship. With a growing population of 1,990, their story continues to evolve. Three things account for their success: 1) the power and passion of a new, young economic developer and visionarian; 2) a town's commitment to inviting and welcoming young people back home; and 3) to a magnitude of leaders who are committed to "growing their own businesses". Overall, Ord's story is about people who are passionate about the place they call home.

One in particular is Caleb Pollard, a new NREDA Member. Caleb relocated his family to Ord, Nebraska several years ago when he was hired as the Executive Director of Valley County's Economic Development Board. Since this time Caleb has become a fabric of the Ord community and an advocate for rural development in the state. Caleb himself is an energetic, dynamic social entrepreneur who sees opportunities where others see challenges. Caleb also cares deeply about creating a brighter future for the residents and youth in the area. Caleb is committed to working with his community to help them develop a progressive vision and to become a living, working model example. In his words from a recently published electronic newsletter article by RUPRI, Caleb states, "I don't have to convince anyone that economic development is a good idea, its accepted. Around here, people believe that they have the ability to direct their own future."

As a young developer, Caleb is highly innovative and an advocate for technology and social networking. Caleb has launched Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites for the community and county and he is proving to be a model example of how communities can use these tools for economic and community development, job recruitment, entrepreneurship, business retention and expansion and tourism. To learn more about Caleb and Ord (Valley County), Nebraska, search for them on the social media sites listed above.

Check out what members are saying about NREDA on YouTube.

See what members are saying about their membership in NREDA on YouTube!

Congratulations to These NREDA Members in the News
If you have items you'd like to share with your fellow NREDA members, please send with photographs to

See what members are saying about their membership in NREDA on YouTube!

NREDA Welcomes Our Newest TEN Members!

Denny Bergstrom, General Manager
Dell Telephone Coop
610 South Main, PO Box 67
Dell City, TX 79837
(915) 964-2124

Roxanne Carisch, CEO
Calhoun County REC
1015 Tonawanda
Rockwell City, IA 50579

James Coleman
Shelby Electric Cooperative
PO Box 560
Shelbyville, IL 62565
(217) 774-3986

Todd H. Foss, Key Accounts Manager
Prairie Energy Cooperative
2099 Hwy 3 West
Clarion, IA 50525
(515) 532-2805

Neil Gamroth, Senior Partner
One Group Consulting, LLC
241 Mains Rd.
Sequim, WA 98382
(360) 457-8111
Read more about Neil here

Marcy Guillen, Office Manager
Dell Telephone Coop
610 Main Street, PO Box 67
Dell City, TX 79837
(915) 964-2135

Robert Hance
Midwest Energy Cooperative
901 E. State Street, PO Box 127
Cassopolis, MI 49031
(269) 445-1000

Stephen Milner
General Manager
Planters Rural Telephone Cooperative
PO Box 8
Newington, GA 30455
(912) 857-4411

Caleb Pollard, Executive Director
Valley County Economic Development Association
1514 K Street
Ord, NE 68862
(308) 728-7875

Glenn Ramsey, President
The Toledo Telephone Company, Inc.
183 Plomondon Road
Toledo, WA 98591
(360) 864-2001

Angie Schwerdtfeger, Community & Economic Development Director
Tri-County Telephone Association, Inc.
1568 S. 1000 Rd., PO Box 299
Council Grove, KS 66846
(620) 767-5153

Richard A. Seekins, Community & Economic Development Director
Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments
PO Box 709
Henderson, NC 27536
(252) 436-2040

Brenda L. Swartzlander, President & CEO
United Electric Cooperative, Inc.
PO Box 688
Du Bois, PA 15801
(814) 371-8570 ext. 3158

Charlie Walker, CEcD, President & CEO
Chippewa County EDC
770 Scheidler Road, Suite 3
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
(715) 723-7150

Karen Zimmerman
Cumby Telephone Cooperative
PO Box 619
Cumby, TX 75433
(903) 994-2211

Did you know ...

You can join and renew membership online by logging in, clicking on your profile name (top right-hand corner) and choosing "Billing". If you have dues billed in the database, they will show on this screen and you can pay them from here. MasterCard and Visa are accepted.

Post Job Listings:

If you have job postings in your organization or area, remember that NREDA is a useful and an available tool.


Webinar Trainings

The Heartland Center for Leadership Development is now taking registrations for the Leadership Development and Board Effectiveness webinar series. The remaining webinars are among five in a complete series focused on developing community leadership and building board member capacity. Each webinar is designed to provide interaction, discussion and feedback. Webinar participants receive a packet of downloadable training materials that include session PowerPoints and readings. Registrants can view the webinar via recording, so you can refresh your learning experience at any time. Webinars last 60 minutes and are hosted by an experienced team of Heartland Center trainers. The following session dates and topics include:

  • August 24, 2010 - Engaging the Community
  • September 14, 2010 - Stewardship Essentials
  • October 19, 2010 - Governance Effectiveness

Each webinar runs from 12:00-1:00 p.m. (CST). The training team includes Milan Wall, Vicki Luther and Kurt Mantonya from the Heartland Center staff and Gordon Goodwin, a former Heartland Center board member with expertise in building board capacity. The cost of each webinar is $59.99, or purchase the entire webinar series at one time for $250.00, a savings of $49.99. Contact the Center to inquire about purchasing the past two sessions. Each registration entitles a single user to have more than one person attend at their computer in one site. Additional registrations from the same organization will be treated as another single registration.

For more details and registration information about this exciting webinar series, please visit the Heartland Center's webinar page.

Social Media for the Practical Economic Development Professional Webinar

This session, scheduled for August 31 from 2:00-3:30 pm EST, will be conducted by Mark James, CEcD, ED Solutions Inc. and Sara Dunnigan, SVP, Existing Business Services, Richmond Partnership. Mark has presented this topic around the United States and Canada and has developed a very practical approach to how economic development organizations can take advantage of social media applications and without overwhelming the organization.

Topics of discussion include:

  • The Growing Adoption of Social Media (SoMe) Tools
  • Why These Tools Matter To the Economic Development Professional
  • Let's Get Practical- Which tools for which ED effort?
  • The Push and Pull of Social Media Applications
  • The Triumvirate of Social Media Tools for Economic Development
  • Putting it All Together- the Social Media Strategy
Learn more and register or direct questions to Mark James at .


The Rural Developer E–Bulletin is published
monthly for members of the
National Rural Economic Developers Association
100 East Grand Avenue, Suite 330 Des Moines, IA 50309
Tele: 515-284-1421 FAX 515-243-2049

NREDA | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Parkway | Ankeny, IA 50023 | Phone: (515) 284-1421 | Fax: (515) 334-1174