The Chamber Blog

The Chamber Ecosystem; the view of Jason Marshall, Business Development Specialist

More often than I'd like to admit, I hear comments from Chamber of Commerce members who say, "The Chamber hasn't done anything for me." My initial reaction is to subdue a noticeable cringe or disapproving stare. My second reaction is to assess how this individual is contributing to his or her own cause. 

It seems to me that many join the Chamber with the wrong impression. It's as if they view the Chamber as a momma bird who, after being given her Chamber dues, will go out and gather business, pre-masticate it, and finally regurgitate it into their little business mouths for consumption. Now, unless your Chamber is run by Alicia Silverstone, I don't see this happening anytime soon.

The reality is that the Chamber is not a momma bird, but rather an ecosystem from which your business can exist and thrive. Much like a natural ecosystem, the Chamber ecosystem has an interrelated and interdependent food chain that is necessary for each entity to exist. The big businesses can't exist without the small businesses. The small businesses can't exist without the workers from the big businesses. The occupational health clinics can't exist without the manufacturing plants. The manufacturing plants can't exist without the construction companies. The construction companies can't exist without the building supply companies. You see? Interdependence.

So, ideally, the Chamber's role is to build a self-sustaining ecosystem in which businesses can interact and support one another. This is why they only work with "Chamber-partners" and only allow sponsorships from "Chamber-partners". They want the ecosystem to support itself, which necessitates living and operating within the ecosystem.

Once you've lived in this ecosystem for a while, you might get to thinking, "I don't really need the Chamber anymore." Hold that thought. Ask yourself a few questions: 1) Have I fully taken advantage of the networking opportunities the Chamber has provided me? 2) If the Chamber were to cease its existence, how many new large-scale developments would arrive in the future? 3) How successful would my business be if other businesses in my ecosystem ceased to exist (remember...interdependence)?  4) Am I willing to play my small part in supporting the Chamber ecosystem in order to make sure it continues to thrive as a self-sustaining business generating ecosystem in which I am afforded many opportunities to succeed?

Remember, the Chamber is there to support you, but it will not feed you. You need to take advantage of the ecosystem they have created and make it work for you, not the other way around. Don't expect handouts. If you're not seeing results, first look in the mirror. Then, contact the Chamber and see how they can help. Our Chamber is full of hard working, helpful individuals who are willing to help those who are willing to help themselves. I know there are many others across the country who do the same. 

So, take advantage of what the Chamber has to offer and see where it gets you. You might be surprised. 

Source provided by LinkedIn.


Last week at the Nebraska Chamber's annual meeting in Lincoln, Governor Pete Ricketts honored chambers of commerce throughout the state by proclaiming February as "Chamber of Commerce Month." The governor's proclamation, which was presented to the leaders of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce Executives (NCCE), states: "Chambers of commerce play a vital role in shaping Nebraska's future by promoting the free enterprise system" -- while also providing leadership that helps create an economic climate conducive to growth and development. The proclamation adds that chambers of commerce enhance the quality of life for our citizens. Receiving the proclamation from Governor Ricketts were NCCE President Marion McDermott, who serves as the executive director for the Kearney Area Chamber, and NCCE Advisory Council Chair Dan Mauk, who is the new executive director of the Nebraska City Area Chamber & Developmental Corp.

Small Business Day at the Capitol: Feb. 19

(Nebraska Chamber) -- If you are a small business owner or have small business interests, spend a morning at the State Capitol on Feb. 19 to learn about the legislative issues that will impact Nebraska's small business community. Small Business Day at the Capitol will provide key information on bills pending in the Unicameral.  This is your opportunity to learn more about important legislation addressing workers' compensation, roads funding, regulations, workforce development, unemployment insurance and taxes.  Cost for the program is $20, which covers materials and lunch.  For more information or to register, call (402) 474-3570 or e-mail  Registration deadline is Feb. 15.

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 us today for details! 308-345-3200

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

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.

Employment Law Check-Up

Following HR procedures for your employees is crucial. Here are some great tips from

Work can get a little hectic sometimes. Running from here to there, meeting after meeting, stressing about a thousand different things - it helps to slow down every once in a while to take an inventory. Here are a few areas we think could benefit from a quick checkup. A few minutes of spot checking could save you a big mess down the line.

Job Descriptions:

As one of the earliest areas an employer can get themselves into trouble during the employment process, job descriptions need to follow a few rules to be effective. Make sure job descriptions are free of discriminatory language, which can be as innocent as something like "seeking a youthful candidate." Descriptions should also clearly and accurately represent all of the job's true responsibilities as they could be referenced during a potential future lawsuits.


Similar to job descriptions, applications can get sticky for some employers. Making sure to stick to the necessary information is key.  Employment applications should also contain a statement that explains the employer does not discriminate. A simple "[Company] is an Equal Opportunity Employer" can cover a lot of issues.

Performance Reviews:

When it comes to reviewing employee performance two aspects are essential: documentation and clarity. Reviews are a great way to give employees helpful feedback, but make sure you are doing it consistently, otherwise the benefits may be lost. Reviews can also demonstrate a history of poor performance, which can give an employer some protection in employment-related lawsuits. So make sure you are you are being thorough and maintaining clear records.

Record keeping requirements:

Are you keeping the right things, in the right places, for the right amount of time? Different forms and information need to be kept for certain lengths of time during and after employment and sometimes in specific places, as well. Consult the record keeping requirements appendix in your Model Policies and Forms guide for federal and state-specific rules and regulations.

Posting requirements:

One way that employers are required to notify their employees of their rights is through employment law posters. In addition to the 6 federal posters, states require posters of their own on varying laws. Additionally, these posters change from time to time, often with little warning. Check the list below to make sure you are using the proper federal posters and check the posting requirements appendix in your Model Policies and Forms guide for state requirements. 

  • Labor Standards Act (FLSA): July 2009
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): February 2013/li>
  • Job Safety & Health Protection (OSHA): No date, but the most current one has a QR code in the corner (a small black and white symbol)
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA): June 2012
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): October 2008
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC): November 2009

Click here to order the brand new, all-in-one federal compliance poster from

Looking for more information?

Hrsimple rresources cover a wide range of employment law topics from state and federal employment law, best practice advice, policies, forms, documents and so much more.