Box Butte Development & Tourism
Annual Report
Chelsie Herian
Executive Director

It has been my absolute pleasure to serve you the last 10 years and I look forward to continuing as the Executive Director. It has been a personal goal of mine to meet or exceed Ellen Lierk's time as the Director of BBDC. However, I will say, in the past 10 years, economic development has evolved. As an organization, we continue to take on more and more. Not because we want to, but because it is necessary. Housing, Early Childhood Development, Workforce Development, Transportation, Tourism, Business Retention & Expansion. That is just to name a few but we partner on many other things too.

We all know this Pandemic has created a lot of obstacles this past year, but for the most part our businesses have persevered by simply pivoting. Not a complete 180* but maybe just a quarter turn. Some of the things we've learned are if you're not online, you should be, and if you are online, make sure you are posting regularly and keeping your website current. No one likes outdated information.

The fact we are all so mobile today, it makes it even more important. Because of that, I made a suggestion to the City's LB840 program to create a Digital Facade grant to assist those who needed to create a web presence or enhance what they already had. We had 6 businesses take up this offer, Steph's Studio, Panhandle Trails Public Transit, Korner Grill, West Side Events Center, POSH, and Dave's Pharmacy. Also along these lines, we were lucky enough to partner with the Alliance Chamber in a Grant from USDA to have GROW Nebraska assist with online presences and sales platforms. Come soon, many of our attractions will be able to sell souvenirs and merchandise online.

Other LB840 activities from 2020 included partnering on projects from Carter's Home Hardware & Appliance and Jelinek Custom Cleaning. City Council also recently passed adding Early Childhood Development as a Qualifying Business to our Economic Development Plan. That brings the LB840 forgivable and non-forgivable loans to just over $168,000+ in 2020.

In Hemingford, I was able to assist the Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) with implementing a Storefront Improvement Grant. It is similar to the Alliance Facade Grant we have for downtown. We had 12 successful applicants and some have already made improvements with their $1000 grant. Those businesses include, 3 Little Birds Health & Healing House, Barb's Blossoms, Bubba's Bar & Grill, Buchheit Precision, Dave's Pharmacy, Farmer's Co-op, Hartman Electrolysis, Hemingford Community Federal Credit Union, Lux Salon, Sorensen Irrigation, Table Top Meats, Inc., and The Body Shop.

The Village of Hemingford also completed their $1.2M Street Project and then launched their Solar Farm Project on September 21st! They are currently raising funds for a Splash Pad addition to the pool and donations may be dropped off at the Village Office.

As mentioned throughout my report, most of our local businesses are growing and diversifying their products or services. Entrepreneurs still exist and they're becoming more creative by the day. Overall, our weakest links right now are workforce and housing. The end of 2019 we updated our Box Butte County Labor Study and we are in the final stages of our 2020 Box Butte County Housing Study update. These are both high priority topics for BBDC. Like the state, we could all use a 10% increase in population.

We are making strides in Talent Attraction but hope to expand those initiatives and partner with others. Let me know if this is of interest to you and your business. We welcome more ideas. You will notice in the chart down below, we have been all over the board during COVID.

I want to end on a positive note and give a special SHOUT OUT. One fairly normal event in 2020 was the Box Butte County Fair. A special THANKS to all the our Fair exhibitors, volunteers, fair board, fair superintendents, 4H council, UNL Extension Staff and BUYERS!!! These kids took a risk by purchasing animals early in the year in hopes by August they would get to exhibit and sell. Thanks to you all, they did! It was even a record setting sale and due to the times, that's amazing! Thank you - Thank you - Thank you!

Finally in closing, due to COVID we might not see as much of each other but I am still available. Give me a call or request a 1-on-1 Zoom chat. I'm even open to a virtual coffee anytime too! Also, just a reminder that I still work out of Hemingford on Tuesday's. Thanks for another great year, despite the circumstances, and I look forward to working for you and with you into 2021.
Recap of 2019-2020 Accomplishments:
  • Updated Box Butte Co. Labor Study (November 2019)
  • Updated Box Butte Co. Housing Study (November 2020)
  • Alliance Received Nebraska Dept. of Economic Development Certified Community status again in 2020 (update every 5 years)
  • Assisted with implementation of LB840 Digital Facade Grant (LB840)
  • Assisted with the addition of Early Childhood Development as a Qualifying Business to our LB840 program
  • Assisted Hemingford Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) with the Storefront Improvement Grant
  • Completed 3 years of Perfect Blends w/ BBDC (our monthly coffee - second Tuesday each month) - COVID did effect these in 2020
  • Assisted with Cares Act Funding for area businesses
  • Advocated for Broadband Expansion
  • Spoke to area youth about leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Granted two Downtown Facades: 210 Box Butte & 313 Box Butte, Alliance
2020-2021 Goals going forward:
  • Pursue NeDED Leadership Certified Community recertification for Hemingford 2021
  • Continue monthly coffee's - Perfect Blend w/ BBDC - but morph into Zoom "Coffee Talks" when unable to meet in person
  • Assist our businesses with Talent Attraction & Community Tours
  • Partner on Housing Development
  • Foster Growth in Entrepreneurship
  • Assist partners with Youth Entrepreneurship opportunities
  • Create Podcasts and Video Marketing - Tell our story and become a more welcoming community - we have so much to celebrate!
  • Resurrect Leadership Development opportunities
  • Explore the viability of a Co-Work space for Entrepreneurship
  • Continue to assist Existing Business grow and diversify
Tourism Report
Amity Palmer
Director of Tourism
As your new Director of Tourism for Box Butte County I want to say a heartfelt thank you for the warm welcome I’ve received from all of you and the communities here. I’m no stranger to small town life after being raised in a town of 1,200 and lived in a couple of small Nebraska towns before staying in Lincoln for about 25 years. This is a wonderful new chapter for my family! My husband Jerad is an Alliance native and returned to fill the spot as Director of Golf for Sky View Golf Course. Our daughter Leala is 6 and attending IELS. We are elated to have her close to more family and are enjoying our new home. 

2019-2020 ACTIVITIES:
  • Activity report airs on KCOW AM/FM 2x per week (Monday & Friday around 9:50 a.m.)
  • Hosted Grow Nebraska meeting to collaborate with attractions for training on Google/social media updating to increase accuracy & reach, prepare for launch of E-commerce sites to sell gifts & souvenirs year-round online to generate increased annual revenue & more visitors to our area
  • Continuing more frequent meetings with Hospitality & Attractions Committee & added 5 new this year with Sandhills Drive-in, Brewery 719, Rainbow Motel, Jeske’s Over the Hill Campground, and Sky View Golf Course
  • Created new website for Carhenge & geofenced (proximity messaging) in partnership with Eagle Radio targeting multiple states, other attractions, & even Stonehenge in England
  • Carhenge won prestigious Trip Advisor 2020 Award & is listed as a “Top 10 Attraction Worldwide”
  • Partnered with Rise Above Media Productions, Fluegge Consulting, Dobby’s Frontier Town, Alliance Chamber of Commerce, Nebraska Tourism Commission, Western Nebraska Tourism Coalition, Trip Savvy, David Eichler Photography, & Thrillist Magazine for adding new media, various marketing, created & implemented new donation processes, & collaboration running a social media page with ad creation for all of Western Nebraska
  • Designed/Partnered with the following for Box Butte County Tourism print & digital ads in: Nebraska Life, Colorado Life, American Road, True West, Visit Nebraska, Alliance Arts Council, Certified Folder/Visitor Tips, Nebraska Traveler, Kimball Visitor Center, Alliance Times Herald/Hemingford Ledger, Eagle Radio/KCOW, Star-Herald, & KNEB

Goals ahead:
  • Audio/visual GPS led tours of all local attractions
  • position attractions for year-round sales via E-commerce
  • continue to modernize attractions via donation acceptance
  • web & social media
  • continue increase of social media & digital ads
  • create quarterly Tourism Newsletter
  • obtain marketing & improvement grants
  • complete plan to disperse local grant funds to our attractions for events
  • build new picnic & play area with pet amenities at Carhenge for enhanced visitor experience
  • partner with KAB & Park & Tree Board along with any other entities to further improve our area for locals & visitors alike
Use our #Hashtags when posting on the web!
Alliance -
Carter's Home Hardware & Appliance (relocation)
Alliance Community Pharmacy (relocation)
Longevity Massage & Wellness
Rolling Prairie Disc Golf Course
A-Town Zesto's
Seasons of Hope Counseling, LLC
No Loose Ends Salon
Denver Air Connection
Jelinek Custom Cleaning
JM & Associates merged with Johnson & Assoc. CPA's
Smiles by Giles merged with Alliance Family Dental
O'Reilly Auto Parts

Hemingford -
Local Gift Boutique & Tea Lounge
Bubba's Bar & Grill
Little Garden Child Care
BBGH: Hemingford Clinic
Hemingford Dental Clinic - new ownership
New Solar Project completed and energized September 21, 2020 - Hemingford
2019-2020 AWARDS
Tourism Partner of the Year
is given to a partnership, business, or individual for their creative involvement in event creation, promotional efforts, visitor attraction and community enrichment.  
Becci Thomas, Knight Museum & Sandhills Center

Entrepreneur of the Year
is given to an individual or partnership that has shown strength and progress toward the mission of Box Butte Development Corporation. An entrepreneur has relocated, developed or expanded a business for the betterment of Box Butte County
Brian Jelinek - Jelinek Custom Cleaning, Inc.

Small Business of the Year
recognizes the importance of constant, committed work needed for a positive direction in increasing the vitality of the area through retention, relocation, beginning or expanding a business, and the creation of jobs.  
Carter's Home Hardware & Appliance, Greg & Lisa Carter

Large Business of the Year
recognizes the importance of constant, committed work needed for a positive direction in increasing the vitality of the area through retention, relocation, beginning or expanding a business, and the creation of jobs.  
GNMSS - Hemingford Clinic

***Photo's with recipients to be in next months E-News
New Hemingford Clinic pictured below
Barb Straub, Village of Hemingford
Bart Moseman, Farmers Co-op
Blanche Randolph, Dave's Pharmacy
Dawn Butcher, Westco
Dr. Carmen Simone, WNCC
Dustin Chester, Farmers State Bank
Jim Bargen, Box Butte General*
Mike McGinnis, County Commissioners
Troy Unzicker, Alliance Public Schools
Wren Wilcox, Dairy Queen

Jake Andersen, Parker-Hannifin*
Trabor Bauer, Ag Producer*

Chris Mischnick, Mischnick Contractors & Builders
John McGhehey, Alliance Development Corp.
Matt Lakes, Parker-Hannifin

*newly elected to 1st or 2nd term
THANK YOU for your investment in the future of Economic Development here in Box Butte County. All partners are guaranteed that their contribution plays a critical role in the positive change of our local economy. When one is successful, we are all successful. ~Chelsie Herian, BBDC Executive Director

Alliance Development Corp.

Walter Mischnick Contractors & Builders Inc.
Western Nebraska Community College

American Electric Power
Gregory’s Insurance
KL Wood & Co.
Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Assoc. (PREMA)

Alliance Grocery Kart
Alliance Public Schools
Alliance Tractor & Implement Co.
ALLO Communications
Consumers Cooperative Federal Credit Union
Cover-Jones Motor Co.
Diamond Investment Estate’s
Edward Jones
– Rich Otto
Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co. – Hemingford
Farmers State Bank
Harris Sales
Heartland Real Estate
Hemingford Public Schools
Kunzman Title Co.
Mobius Communications Co.
Nebraska Dept. of Labor
Redman’s Shoes
Sandhills State Bank
Simmons Olsen Law Firm PC
Steph’s Studio
Syndicate Block Co.
– Dan Dickinson
Trabor & Brittany Bauer
Western Hertiage Credit Union
Western Nebraska Real Estate

Alliance Chamber
Hemingford Chamber
Chas & Ellen Lierk
Mike McGinnis
Curtiss, Morvek & Curtiss, PC, LLO
---- We are a Public-Private Partnership ----
COVID effects on our Unemployment Rate. Source: Nebraska Dept. of Labor
COVID effects on Sales Tax for both communities. Source: Nebraska State Treasurers Office
Will plan to show this chart again sometime after January once 2020 figures have been calculated.
"Maintain, Enhance, and Diversify the Economy of Box Butte County, Nebraska"