Local chamber executives honored for mission-driven results

SEWARD, NE (October 11, 2021) – Two local chamber of commerce executives were recognized as “Professionals of the Year” by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce Executives (NCCE), a professional development organization comprised of the leaders of more than 50 local chambers of commerce across the state.

Tina Biteghe Bi Ndong, executive director of West Point Chamber of Commerce, took home the honor among small communities (less than 5,000 population). From dog shows to Farm-to-Fork events, Tina keeps her approach to events and communications fresh. She is a strong community and business advocate, receiving the Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Extra Mile Award for small business development in 2019.

Tara Lea, executive director of Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, received the large community award (5,000 population or more.) In addition to leadership positions in both NCCE and the Mid-America Chamber Executives, Tara has guided her community through a rebranding effort, launched unique community events and sponsorship opportunities, and found new ways to give local business exposure through social media.

“Chamber professionals are the forever advocates of main street businesses, local commerce and community growth both in their regions and the state. Their work helps build community identity and connectedness,” said Jonathan Jank, President of NCCE and the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership. “Tara and Tina take this mission to heart every day. Their energy and success are examples for all of us.”

The new awards program was launched by NCCE in combination with “Chamber of Commerce Month” proclaimed in October by Governor Pete Ricketts. Local chamber leaders are recognized for their exceptional work and professionalism in business development, innovative programs with measurable results, organizational effectiveness and leadership in the profession and NCCE.

The Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber of Commerce hosted the NCCE Fall Conference, featuring updates from the U.S. and NE Chambers, social media training, and a 1950s-style dinner at Cozad’s Antique Garage.

At its regular business meeting, the members of NCCE affirmed their commitment to supporting partnerships and engaging state and local leaders more urgently on economic opportunities, including:

  • Addressing workforce and related challenges, including housing, childcare and recreation;
  • Building welcoming, vibrant communities that attract new residents;
  • Advocating for infrastructure investments that fuel economic development and innovation;
  • Maintaining a competitive tax and regulatory environment for community businesses; and
  • Supporting the joint chambers’ and economic developer’s proposal for a portion of Nebraska’s $1 billion share of the American Rescue Plan Act funding,