PCDC Generates Leads at World Dairy Expo

26 Oct 2017

Dairy, Producer, Processing, Dairy Processing, Dairy Producer, Dairy Farm, Recruitment, Tradeshow

The cow population could look a little different in Phelps County in a few years thanks to recent efforts by PCDC to recruit a dairy processor or dairy producers to the area.

PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery attended the recent World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin as part of a statewide delegation to promote growing the dairy industry in Nebraska. His work developed leads that could result in a few more spotted cows among the black and brown ones that currently dominate Phelps County.

“It was a tremendous experience,” Tillery said of the trip. “The show included manufacturers of dairy related-equipment, dairy processors and of course, dairy producers, all in one place. We were able to have high-quality conversations with processors, manufacturers and producers and, maybe most importantly, with a site-selection consultant for the dairy industry.”

Tillery connected with Bob Fassbender of T.C. Jacoby & Company, a company that works with dairy processors to find new locations for cheese, ice cream or other dairy-related plants.

Tillery attended the conference along with a team from Nebraska that included representatives from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Public Power District, the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska State Dairy Association, and the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN). One other community, Grand Island, also sent a representative.

Phelps County was chosen to be one of 12 communities that were promoted at the expo.

“The Grow Nebraska Dairy team had identified 12 different communities in the state that in their judgment were well prepared and would support both processing and dairy producers, and Holdrege was one of those,” Tillery said. “We do have conditions here that are ideally suited for livestock production.”

The statewide collaboration to recruit the dairy industry in Nebraska is unique, Tillery said.

“What makes this interesting today is that for the first time in my professional career, all of those organizations are collaborating to recruit dairy and dairy processors,” Tillery said. “Up until two years ago, there had been very little collaboration among state agencies to do any kind of agriculturally-based economic development work.”

This new team spirit, Tillery said, is partially traced to the successful recruitment of the new Costo chicken processing plant in Fremont. Tillery was involved in that effort in his previous position as Executive Director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce.

“The governor’s office recognized the impact that that livestock operation would have on Nebraska and pulled together all of the state agencies,” Tillery said of the Costco recruitment efforts. A similar effort is now being formed in the dairy industry.

Prior to the dairy expo, PCDC launched a publicity campaign that garnered attention across the country. Industry officials visited Tillery at the expo and had already heard that Phelps County was interested in welcoming dairy processors and producers.

“We just had terrific word-of-mouth as a result of that campaign,” Tillery said.

Tillery said he is now making follow-up calls with contacts he made at the conference, and he is preparing to give a presentation to one of the leads generated at the show.