This will be my final article as President & CEO of LIBA ( I have always subscribed to the philosophy of why the rearview mirror is so small and the windshield is so big, giving us the opportunity to have a wide view of what is ahead of us and a small view of what is behind us. However, this month, I think it is time to look in the rearview mirror over the past four years.

A little over four-and-a-half years ago, we lost our friend, Coby Mach. This news hit me hard as both a friend of Coby and a member of LIBA. Coby recruited me to be a member of LIBA in 2013 and we became quick friends, sharing our interests in politics and bourbon. Coby was always there to help. During the selection process, at times it was awkward to be interviewing for a position to replace a close friend. When the position was offered to me, it was surreal. Coming to work each day in his office was an adjustment, and an honor at the same time.

Fast forward to about six months after beginning my position at LIBA, a pandemic hit the world and we had to adjust our operations hour by hour and day by day. During the pandemic, my focus for LIBA was to make sure we were available to anyone who needed help navigating the changing factors in the pandemic. One project we engaged in early in the pandemic was establishing a web site “Nebraska Buy Local” where consumers could support local businesses by purchasing gift cards to help local businesses. Unfortunately, we lost several local businesses during the pandemic.

Coming out of the pandemic, our members were steadfast in their desire to get back to networking and connect with fellow business owners. LIBA delivered this opportunity for them. LIBA had the last major event going into the pandemic and the first major event coming out of the pandemic. As business owners were getting back to their activities, we started hosting educational sessions to address workforce issues to help business owners develop strategies for moving forward in a new environment. Shortly after, LIBA formed a partnership with The Career Academy. The LIBA/TCA partnership has provided business owners with opportunities such as career fairs, job fairs and a recent pathway summit. To connect the business community with trained individuals to meet their workforce needs was a great success. Over the course of these connections hundreds of TCA students have been able to get jobs where they are putting their skills to work and filling essential workforce needs for local business.

When LIBA started 43+ years ago the goal was to be the voice of small business in our community. I am proud to say today, we continue to be the voice of small business. LIBA has established a presence with the City Council, County Board, LPS Board, Nebraska Legislature and several other areas to articulate the voice of business and the issues facing business today.

Moving forward, I want to share a heartfelt message of thanks to our members for their continued support of LIBA. Your commitment, dedication and loyalty to LIBA and the local business community is inspiring. I look forward to continuing my membership with LIBA as I move forward in my own business. As I am sure you can all relate, stepping out into my own business comes with a whole new level of excitement, anticipation, and nervousness. Yet without the support of my wife Nikki and our family, this would not be possible. Finally, a word of thanks to our elected officials in the community. Whether we agreed or not, we had civil conversations and were always able to come back to the table time and again to discuss issues. Wishing you all the best down the road. Onward!

LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining, please call LIBA at (402) 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.