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Neligh's new economic development director will hit the ground running and start June 1.
The Neligh City Council unanimously approved the hiring of Gabriel Steinmeyer, who currently serves as a regional coordinator for BGA Management America, on Tuesday at a noon special meeting. Dale Wilkinson made the motion with Steph Wanek seconding. The motion passed unanimously, 4-0.
Steinmeyer will receive an annual salary of $46,000 with full city benefits after his first month. After a three-month probationary period, he'll also receive one week's vacation.
Wanek, who served on the hiring committee said Steinmeyer, a Spearfish, South Dakota native, was a strong candidate and looks to be a great fit for the community.
"He's very outgoing and has a strong background in global economic development," she said.
The council discussed Steinmeyer's pay for several minutes and agreed they "see value in the position." Wilkinson and Leonard Miller both said by starting at that level, he may not see substantial pay increases for some time.
Key factors in the pay, Wanek said, was experience and education. The Council is not bound to any specific pay increases, they said.
"We have to think about he's coming with a lot of experience and a master's degree," she said.
Steinmeyer will replace Greg Ptacek, who announced in March that after years of working with businesses and entrepreneurs, he will become one himself. Ptacek is moving to Wayne this summer and plans to open Johnnie Byrd Brewing Company in the fall.
Widely known across the state as a shining star in economic development, it’s no surprise the open position in Neligh yielded nearly 20 applicants. After initial Zoom interviews with the top eight candidates, the field was narrowed to three finalists who were interviewed in Neligh by committee members late last week.
Steinmeyer said Neligh is a great fit for him because it reminds him of home.
“When we were walking around in the downtown area, it reminded me of when I was growing up in a small town south of York,” Steinmeyer said. “It really just reminded me of home and it looked like the type of community I could really see myself settling back into.”
Steinmeyer said his experience with economic development started nearly five years ago. In his role with BGA Management America, his primary job was to facilitate partnerships between cities in North America and cities in Israel for mutual economic development projects.
A big part of the job was to find ways to boost the infrastructure of the cities to help attract business and build an attractive atmosphere to bring in tourists and residents.
While in Neligh interviewing for the position, Steinmeyer toured the community for an up-close look at what it has to offer him as well as the business community. While Steinmeyer was well aware of the City’s $350,000 Downtown Revitalization grant, he sees a lot of opportunity for the future in Neligh.
“I see a lot of ability to grow here,” he said. “It is really an area that has great opportunities. I can bring my experience from working internationally and working here in North America and make it come to fruition to help develop a community fully and really help bring it into this new generation thats coming about and really help the community grow. And I really like that its not too small to have it all.”
Steinmeyer will begin his role in early June and spend about two weeks working beside Ptacek and assistant director Lauren Sheridan-Simonsen.