Anderson’s Relationship Skills Helped Rural Nebraska

26 Oct 2017

PCDC lost a long-time board member, enthusiastic promoter of Phelps County economic development and a genuine and honest friend when Tim Anderson died on Oct. 12 at age 68.

Anderson was a current PCDC Board of Directors member and had served on the board since March of 2008. But, promoting Phelps County and rural economic development was a passion of his for much longer.

He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, William (Bill) Anderson and his father, Willard “Bud” Anderson, who also both worked on industry recruitment and business promotion in Holdrege as volunteers in economic development. They were part of the successful recruitment of BD to Holdrege in 1963.

Anderson’s work in local economic development spanned more than 30 years counting the time he previously served on the HIDC (Holdrege Industrial Development Council) and the HERO (Holdrege Economic Resource Organization).

He was instrumental in encouraging Phelps County to start using LB840 sales-tax funds to spur economic development. And during Anderson’s recent tenure as president of the PCDC board, he helped finalized the purchase of the Iron Horse Business & Industry Park. That is a legacy he leaves that will continue to bear fruit far into the future.

Fellow PCDC board member Tim Rehm said he will miss Anderson’s relationship skills and his ability to connect with people.

“I think his world was all about relationships,” Rehm said of Anderson. “He cared a lot about Holdrege, Phelps County and South-Central Nebraska. He was always ready to help make it grow.”

His welcoming attitude was refreshing to Rehm.

“Even though Tim’s roots ran deep in Phelps County, he didn’t care that I wasn’t born and bred here,” Rehm said. “All he cared about was what I brought when I came.”

Rehm and Kearney Hub editorial writers recognized Anderson’s ability to peaceably resolve conflict in difficult situations.

The Hub editorial written a few days after Anderson’s death described him as a “master of open government.”

“As CNPPID’s longtime director of communications and public relations, Anderson sought ways to depressurize the contentious issues involving the hundreds of cabin owners who leased their lots around the lake from CNPPID,” the Hub editorial stated. “He worked hard to keep people informed, and when lake issues came up at meetings, he encouraged the people affected by the decisions to attend and participate.

 “Keeping everyone informed and inviting them to participate in meetings was part of Anderson’s formula for resolving issues at Johnson Lake, but he was an expert in the many facets of his work for CNPPID. He was an excellent lobbyist, and he knew how to disagree without being disagreeable. As a tour master, he introduced thousands of regional residents to CNPPID’s extensive network of canals, reservoirs, hydroelectric facilities and dams.

“We’re certain his many efforts for the betterment of our region, and his positive effects will be evident well into the future.”

PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said Anderson will be missed locally as well as across the Nebraska.

“He had genuine friendship throughout the entire state,” Tillery said. “Sometimes you don’t know what somebody is delivering on your behalf until they are not there to do it any longer. And, I think that’s going to be the case with Tim. I used to hear stories about what he would do at the Legislature. He would make sure there were fresh flowers for each senator. He would do things like that that were just so thoughtful. He was such a positive influence for others to follow.”

Barry Kennedy, president of Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said he had known and worked with Anderson for more than 30 years starting when Anderson was president of the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce and then continuing as Anderson lobbied for his employer, Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District, where he began working in 1990.

“Tim was just a real, honest down-to-earth very ethical person,” Kennedy said. “You always knew where Tim stood, and he would always look you square in the eye and tell you exactly what he thought.”

Kennedy said that Anderson supported initiatives that would benefit economic development in all of rural Nebraska.

“Sure, he obviously had an interest in the territory that Central covered, but he understood that a rising tide raises all ships,” Kennedy said. “What was good for all of Nebraska would also be good for Phelps County.”

“We are sure going to miss him,” Kennedy said.