Client Spotlight - Carley Bruning

Client Spotlight - Carley Bruning Main Photo

1 Jul 2020

News, Blog, Client Spotlight

Carley Bruning is currently the Director of Business Services at Phelps County Development Corporation (PCDC). In her role, she administers the new GO! programs, works with local and regional educators and guidance counselors, administers the high-demand jobs scholarship program, engages with employers to develop programs to recruit, develop, and retain talent, assists and encourages local entrepreneurs; and collaborates with other organizations to encourage a vibrant downtown. She oversees PCDC's Holdrege Young Professional and Business in Motion groups.

A native of Edison, NE, Carley graduated from Arapahoe Public Schools. She furthered her education at Central Christian College of Kansas, where she played both volleyball and basketball. She graduated with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Sports Management with an emphasis in Mass Communication. Now, Carley resides in Holdrege, NE with her husband Adam and their Shihtzu Tucker. She is also involved in the following:

  • Vice President of Phelps/Harlan County CASA
  • Secretary of Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors
  • Board Member of Holdrege Rotary Club #1488, Co-Chair of Media
  • Co-Chair of Leadership Nebraska Alumni Advisory Council, Co-Chair of Recruitment Committee on the Advisory Board
  • Member of "Connecting Young Nebraskans" Network Relations & Communications Team
  • Member of Nebraskan Talent Team through Nebraska's Department of Economic Development
  • Member of Central Plains Ribfest Committee, Co-Chair of Social Media & Advertising Committee

Carley's main role is to provide local business assistance with training workshops, administer workforce housing and downtown revitalization programs, business retention, and entrepreneurship. Her previous work experience as an Escrow Closing Agent has led to the success of PCDC's GO! Home housing stimulus programs.

Carley has been with Phelps County Development Corporation since July 2017. This is her first job in Economic Development and she absolutely loves it! She says, "I strongly feel that I have found 'my calling.' I enjoy helping foster people's passions and helping them build the future they see for our county."

Carley says the best part of her job is "helping people dream." Whether it's about expanding their business, starting a business, or renovating a downtown building, those dreams and ideas inspire her! She loves to network and connect people to projects while capitalizing on their strengths.

Of course, with any economic development career comes challenges, whether it be size, location, housing, workforce development, etc. The most challenging part for Carley is trying to stay ahead of the Economic Development trends and to be proactive versus reactive. "I'm blessed to work with a forward-thinking team that takes the lead facing the challenges head-on. We have launched awesome programs to continue to grow our local economy," says Carley.

When recalling her greatest successes as an economic developer at PCDC, it was hard for Carley to pick just one! However, she's most proud of her and her team's quick response and innovative, forward-thinking when COVID-19 struck their communities. When businesses were forced to shut down and were restricted, PCDC launched two new Economic Recovery Grant programs: Magic Multiplier Gift Card Grant and the Digital Development Grant.

With the Gift Card Grant, PCDC awarded Phelps County business owners $94,042 between April 1 and 17. Those funds matched $94,042 in gift cards purchased from area retailers, restaurants, and service businesses. The program encouraged residents to purchase gift cards from Phelps County businesses, then PCDC doubled the value of every gift card. The Phelps County Community Foundation also matched gift card purchases with its funds going to the Phelps County Disaster Relief Fund to help people with basic needs such as food, medical prescriptions, rent, and utilities.

The Digital Development program grants Phelps County retailers, restaurants, hospitality, and service businesses up to $1,000 to create a website or online store, advertise and online store, purchase point-of-sale software, or become a member of GROW Nebraska or the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce. To date, PCDC has awarded businesses over $10,000 for digital improvements.

PCDC gained statewide and nationwide attention with Carley and her team's quick response programs. "We couldn't have done it without the local support of our communities answering the call to support local," said Carley. Read the news article here.

Changing gears, if Carley had to give advice to other economic developers, she'd say, "Big or small, celebrate all successes." Sometimes in Economic Development, you view success as getting the "big fish" or bringing in a large new company. But every day you have numerous opportunities to be successful. You help people dream and start new businesses. You encourage recent college graduates to move back to your communities by connecting them to local jobs. You help create programs to assist employers relocate employees into your communities. You help established businesses renovate and update their buildings and facades. At the end of the day, those tally marks add up and by celebrating and featuring these stories in your marketing, you tell your unique success story to the world.

At Golden Shovel Agency, we know that you want to be a respected leader of a growing community. Our goal is to help you get there. We understand how frustrating it can be to not get noticed or falling behind the competition. That's why we focus on organizations like yours. Economic development is what we live and breathe. We currently support over 230 ORGANIZATIONS across the U.S. and Canada. In an effort to recognize some of the greatest economic developers we work with, we share these client spotlights to inspire you and give you insights on the successes and challenges that they face.

Know someone who is doing awesome economic development work? Let us know by emailing AANDERSON@GOLDENSHOVLEAGENCY.COM. We'd really love to hear from you!

Also, while you're here, don't forget to SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER where you will get all the latest economic development trends right to your inbox. Don't worry - we don't spam our subscribers. You can expect a bi-weekly email with tips to get you further professionally, client spotlights, and examples of successful economic development organizations that you can copy.

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COVID-19 has temporarily halted daily life, impacting how we do business and interact together in our communities. As businesses reopen, this is a brand new experience for everyone and people's expectations for how reopening will take place are going to be all over the board.

As an economic development leader in your community, you can help facilitate the reopening of local businesses and places of employment by acting as a conduit of helpful information. When you make your website and social media channels the go-to places where people can find out what's happening, you gain the opportunity to not only build realistic expectations but deflate tension at the same time.

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