The Chamber Blog

Bulk Mailings

One of the most popular benefits that the Chamber offers is the use of our Bulk Mailing Permit!  You can save not only the $200 plus dollars for the permit, but also another $.30 cents per mail item with a mailing of 200 or more items!  Some restrictions apply...call us today for details! 308-345-3200






Proposed Overtime Regulation

     

The US Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a conference call this Thursday, October 22 at 3:00pm ET to discuss the Obama Administration's proposed changes to the regulations defining who qualifies for overtime.

Under the proposed rule, workers will automatically be eligible for overtime compensation if they are not paid more than $970 per week ($50,440 per year). That's up from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) under current rules. Increasing the salary threshold so dramatically will mean employers will have to decide whether to reclassify millions of employees or increase their salaries to remain exempt. Many will likely be reclassified from exempt to non-exempt (eligible for overtime).

Learn more or register for the call here!




October 21 is "Support Your Chamber Day"!

'Support Your Local Chamber Of Commerce'
 
This Wednesday, Oct. 21, is "Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day."  The Nebraska Chamber values its relationship with local chambers across the state.  The State Chamber believes the overall interests of any community are best served by an effective, vibrant local chamber.  And we believe the businessperson's first responsibility for involvement is to the community in which he or she lives and does business.  We encourage all Nebraska Chamber members to find new ways to get involved with their local chamber by volunteering to serve on a committee, working at an event, contributing to a local fundraiser, or recruiting other members to join.  Joining your area's chamber is a smart move for your business for many reasons, but mostly because you have access to a valuable networking and marketing system.  A recent survey by the Shapiro Group found that nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers said they were more likely to buy goods or services from a business that belongs to a chamber of commerce.  If you're not already a member of your local chamber, we encourage you to join today.


Scholarships to Students who Return to Southwest Nebraska

Many community-based affiliated funds include scholarship accounts. But scholarships shouldn't be a one-way ticket out of town; they should be a round trip ticket for kids to eventually return home. Where appropriate, scholarship committees may want to reassess their guidelines.

In 2011, Jordan Pick and Emily Wood were the first students to benefit from the newly formed Nelson Hometown Scholarship program, which awards scholarships of at least $1,500 or more annually. The fund was established by Senator Ben Nelson. Applicants must attend the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, Mid-Plains Community College in McCook or North Platte, or the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

Importantly, they must express a sincere desire to return to southwest Nebraska sometime in the future. Now, four years later, Jordan and Emily have not moved back to McCook-yet-but they are working their way home in the foreseeable future. Jordan graduated from UNK with an early childhood education degree which allows her to teach young children up to third grade. She has applied for a teaching position in McCook. Jordan is also working on setting up a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the intent of helping military families. She is currently in the process of filing the paperwork.

Emily graduated from UNK as an English major with a Business Administration minor. She will attend law school at UNL. She is no longer eligible for the renewable scholarship, but she plans to return to McCook to practice law with her father, County Attorney Paul Wood.

"They are exactly what I had hoped we would have for the Nelson Hometown Scholarship program - to get their education where necessary and to return to their roots in Southwest Nebraska," Senator Nelson said.

Nebraska Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, serves communities, organizations and donors throughout Nebraska.



5 Things Real Leaders Do Everyday

Summer is a great time to push hard and develop not just your business skills, but your leadership skills. In fact, it was in the summer of 1899 that industrial giant Henry Ford left his position as chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company’s headquarters to concentrate on automobile production.

Ford knew that he needed to leave the safety of his position to explore life as an entrepreneur on his own terms. While we know Ford as one of the great inventors of America, if you’ve ever studied his leadership skills, they too are truly astonishing.

Leadership, like entrepreneurship, is an often aspired-to position, but it’s rare for most to actually achieve and display true leadership capabilities. Being in a role where you’re the boss, the supervisor, and for entrepreneurs, the founder doesn’t by default mean that you’re a good leader.

You can start a business, but that doesn’t mean you can lead a movement, or even a staff. Leadership takes an incredibly nuanced balance of authority and compassion, grit and softness and drive and a sense of reward. It’s perhaps the toughest role entrepreneurs will ever step into when they begin to hire out staff and drive their vision forward.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking because your business is a great idea, it means you’re a good leader. Develop and cultivate the traits great leaders posses by taking small daily actions.

Here are five things real leaders do, inspired by the leadership of Henry Ford (along with some of his great quotes).

1. Listen

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own."

Real leadership requires more listening than talking. When you pause to really hear other people’s side of the story, to let their perspective sink in and allow yourself to not be attached to your own notion of what’s right, you exhibit a true quality of a leader.

Listen more than you speak and learn how to hear others. It’s not that other points of view will necessarily be right, but just listening can go a long way. Great leaders allow other voices than just their own be heard. 

2. Assess

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”

Every day, real leaders assess their businesses, the day’s activities and their teams, products and time. Money is a crucial and necessary reason for business. You need money to thrive, survive and keep your business going. It’s a wonderful thing. However, money for money’s sake alone will not drive decisions that are for the good of your staff, your community or the greater scope of humanity.

True leaders assess what areas their businesses are being efficient at and what areas they are not, and weigh their monetary decisions against other criteria. Monetary decisions can’t always be measured alone. Sometimes they need to be balanced against values such as integrity, vision and purpose. A true leader assesses the bottom line and his or her moral compass, and then makes adjustments accordingly.

3 + 4. Improve and take action

“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

After they assess, great leaders look at where they can get improve. When they identify better ways of doing things, they act. It’s a perpetual cycle: assess, improve, action.

True leaders don’t just apply the cycle to their businesses, they apply it to themselves. How can they be clearer communicators? How can they be better leaders? Where can they improve their skills?

Leadership is an ever-evolving and continuous process for yourself and your business. Start inward and work your way out.

5. Expect

“Quality means doing it right when nobody is looking.”

Real leaders have high expectations of others, but they have high expectations of themselves, too. True leaders expect more from themselves than any member of their teams. They lead by example, not by threat. They inspire their team to perform at the peak vs. demanding.

Real leaders also know that sometimes, team members won’t be able to live up to the expectations the team needs to thrive and they’ll have to take action. Being a leader means making touch decisions, decisions not based on personal emotions but the good of the team. They know that there are situations where changes have to be made.

Expect a lot from yourself to build and to maintain your business and your team. Real leaders make the necessary changes and do the right thing for the good of the whole group.

By Adam Toren

Serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com
 



Networking Opportunities

Business After Hours, Coffee Connections, Membership Development, Ribbon Cuttings and Grand Opening Ceremonies provide a social setting for business contacts and an opportunity for members to promote their business.

Involvement/Committees/Network with our Business Community

The McCook Area Chamber of Commerce committees get you involved in the heart of the Chamber. Becoming a member of a Chamber committee provides an opportunity to work with McCook's most active citizens in planning and implement changes in our community's future. The Chamber of Commerce offers numerous opportunities for you to become involved in your business community.

Chamber committees meet regularly, offering networking opportunities, education and community outreach.

We encourage you to get more involved by joining one of our committees. To participate, contact us.



Tips and Information for Boosting Cyber Security

You know what happened to Neiman Marcus and Target. What are the odds of your business being added to the list?

They can't be predicted, but obviously the threat is real, the potential scary. At the last meeting of the Entrepreneurs Business Forum, FBI Special Agent Joy Mihara- Meer reported that of the 7 billion people in the world in 2012,  2.4 billion used the internet.  It's not news that a disconcerting, highly skilled proportion makes a good living as cybercriminals. They use the internet to commit all the crimes that once were done in person, by mail or over the telephone. Now they hide behind the anonymity of the internet and capitalize on its ease of access to potential victims.

It's obvious but worth repeating. If you're successfully targeted, your personal information can be compromised, proprietary and sensitive information as well as financial resources can be stolen, and your reputation can be ruined. Then there's online extortion, money laundering, reshipping, auction fraud, payment fraud and virtual kidnapping. The latter involves the use of technology to convince a business, or family, that a member has been kidnapped, and a ransom must be paid.

Just like preparing for an earthquake, there are things you should do to bolster your cyber defenses. Hereís the shorthand version of a tip sheet made available at the meeting.

Protect Personal Information On-line:

  • Set strong passwords and don't share them.
  • Be cautious about supplying personal information.


The Keys To Wise Tax Policy

This year’s session of the Nebraska Legislature has produced another discussion about Nebraska's heavy tax burden.

The governor has offered his ideas for tax relief. Many of Nebraska's 49 senators have offered their own plans. For the next several weeks, the Legislature's Revenue Committee will continue to hold hearings on newly introduced tax-related legislation. At this point in the session, only two things are crystal clear: First, all reasonable individuals can agree that Nebraska's taxes, overall, are too high. Second, Nebraskan's will be divided on the best method of tax relief because different taxes affect residents to differing degrees. The mission of the Nebraska Chamber for the past 103 years has been to represent the state's business community and to give it voice at the Legislature - from large employers to main street businesses, from sole proprietorships to startups, from manufacturers to agri-business.

Our members tell us that taxes, at all levels, are a major cost of doing business. They impact Nebraska's competitiveness when it comes to creating jobs, attracting new businesses or expanding existing ones. But don't just take our word. Respected, independent third parties have analyzed Nebraska's tax structure and its impact on the business community. Here are some of their findings:

  • The Tax Foundation says Nebraska's top personal income tax rate of 6.84% is 15th highest among states levying an income tax. (This does not include federal income tax, which takes as much as another 39.6% of personal income. The average taxpayer in Nebraska paid $9,200 in federal income taxes in 2013, according to the National Priorities Project. Keep in mind the majority of businesses pay at the individual tax level.)
  • Nebraska's maximum corporate tax rate is 19th highest among states with a corporate income tax. In addition, Nebraska corporations face a top federal tax rate of 39.1%, the highest corporate rate in the developed world.
  • A recent study by the Council On State Taxation (COST) reports that businesses paid $4 billion in state and local taxes in 2013 in Nebraska. Property taxes - levied by local units of government - took $1.7 billion of this amount, while individual income taxes on business income claimed another $400 million, and the state's corporate income tax took another $300 million.
  • Comparing tax burdens, COST found that Nebraska businesses paid roughly 40% the total state taxes and 56% of total local taxes.

Nebraska's business community has plenty of skin in the game. That's why the State Chamber would like to offer three simple principles to our state policymakers:

1. Wise tax policy must benefit all taxpayers. It must be fair and equitable, taking care to not pit one sector of the economy against another or one industry against another.

2. Smart tax law must make Nebraska more competitive. It cannot ignore the large amount of taxpayer dollars being taken by the federal government from individuals and businesses.

3. While property tax relief is needed, we must not simply shift the burden by raising income and sales taxes. Since local governments and school districts levy property taxes in Nebraska, the only way real property tax relief can be achieved is through reduced local spending coupled with more efficient management.

Fortunately, there are legislative proposals currently before the Legislature that would significantly improve Nebraska's overall tax climate, while adhering to these principles. For example, Papillion Senator Jim Smith and 10 other senators have offered LB357 to gradually reduce the state's personal and corporate income tax rates over the next eight years, providing tax relief to families and businesses. In addition, the bill would generously boost the state's property tax credit program.

Another proposal worth considering is Omaha Senator Burke Harr's LB398 to exempt all tangible personal property from property tax. This would greatly benefit Nebraska businesses, as well as farmers and ranchers, by doing away with the antiquated tax on depreciable personal property used in the trade of business - whether a tractor or combine, manufacturing equipment, desks, computers or telephones.

Of course, no tax relief will sufficiently address Nebraska's high tax climate if public sector spending is not curtailed. Public spending, including at the local level, is directly responsible for Nebraska's heavy tax burden. State lawmakers have some difficult choices ahead in the coming weeks. Yet amid the uncertainty, we know our economy depends on the ability of businesses to prosper. By improving conditions for the private sector - by encouraging new jobs and investments - Nebraska can be a better place for all taxpayers.