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Phelps County News
Holdrege Looks to the Future While Celebrating the Past
Relocation news section
by Holdrege Chamber of Commerce on 5/20/2011
Holdrege is a community that makes things happen. Business leaders and residents came together last Friday night for the annual Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce banquet to celebrate that spirit by recognizing businesses and leaders who have contributed to Holdrege's vibrant business environment.
"I get to see the best of Nebraska every day," said Nebraska's Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy in his keynote address. "There are communities that are waiting for things to happen and there are communities that are making things happen. You should be proud of what you have done. You are doing this because you want to make your community better and to make the state of Nebraska better."
Chamber President Karen Stute expanded on that theme as she explained the Chamber's vision for the future, a vision to recruit and maintain sustainable businesses within the community and to build upon Holdrege's architectural and historical resources.
"No matter who we are or where we come from, we all share a common goal, to strengthen and grow our community," she said. "None of us can carry out that vision alone, but together, we can make it happen.
History has shown that we are definitely a can-do community, that together, we can make a difference."
Bruning State Bank is one of those businesses that has stepped up to the plate. The bank was honored with this year's Visionary Rising Star Award for its commitment to the community with the completion of a beautiful new facility in Holdrege and a staff that is committed to giving back at work and through volunteerism in the community.
"We have been really pleased with the reception we have gotten in this community," said Frank Bruning, chairman of Bruning State's board.
"Our success and what we have done up to this point has been a team effort," said Kyle Anderson, assistant branch president of Holdrege's Bruning State Bank. "That team effort hasn't just been our great staff, it's been the community, certainly the City of Holdrege, and the local suppliers and local contractors that we used."
This year's Visionary Super Star Award went to Nelson-Bauer Funeral Home. Owner Ryan Bauer accepted the award and recalled how, as the walls of the former funeral home fell in November 2009, he called his wife and said, "What did we just do?"
After many months of renovation, as the funeral home staff relied on branch locations, local churches, and the understanding of the community to carry out the day-to-day business, Nelson-Bauer reopened last summer in a state-of-the-art facility where even the smallest details have been carefully crafted with families in mind.
"I knew in the end that what we did would benefit this community and serve this community for years to come," Bauer said. He thanked his family, his staff, and the community for their support throughout the renovation.
John Boehler accepted the Trailblazer Award for his leadership in the business community and urged everyone to get involved, to give back to the community to make a difference. He said his family taught him to give back and improve the community for the generations to follow.
"What John has done for our community cannot be measured," said Michele Ehresman, Executive Vice-President of the Chamber. "John serves as a mentor and an inspiration to so many people in our community. He shows how one can truly give unselfishly to make our community a better place to live.
The Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Wilbur "Blackie" Black, left Oklahoma's heat with his wife, a borrowed car, $10, a radio and an alarm clock. The business he eventually started, Black Motor Company, has been serving Holdrege for more than 50 years.
"It's been a wonderful trip," Black said. "Over the years, I have learned that you have to not only sell yourself, you sell your town, you sell your community, and you sell your competition. And you would be surprised how much this will help your town grow."
Ehresman wrapped up the program by noting some of the Chamber's achievements over the past year. During Swedish Days, a new street fair format brought 2,500 people to downtown Holdrege during a four-hour period. Chamber membership increased by 28 percent over the last year, and the Chamber has started many new programs, such as Lunch and Learn and Smart Shopper books.
"This community will continue to not only thrive," she said, "but we are going to set the example for every other town our size and larger of what a visionary community should look like. Our community will only continue to grow strong if we plant the seeds of success together, we work together to nurture them, and, I guarantee you, that we will continue to grow and we will be strong for the future."