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Greater Fremont Development Council board members have agreed to enter into a partnership with one of the state’s largest economic development organizations.

On Wednesday, the board unanimously approved entering the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, a program of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

“Joining the partnership is about greater exposure, more business opportunities, building relations and a strong regional collaborative approach to economic development,” GFDC president Scott Meister said. “The end game, of course, is results – growth and jobs for Fremont and Dodge County and creating a better place to live, work and do business.”

The partnership brings together economic development organizations in Omaha as well as Douglas, Cass, Sarpy and Washington counties. It began more than 20 years ago when Sarpy County joined the Omaha Chamber’s economic development efforts. Washington County joined 10 years ago and Cass County became a member four years ago.

Fremont’s economic development organization had discussed joining the partnership in the past, and during the past year a consultant group suggested GFDC seek a “mutually beneficial” partnership with the Omaha group, Doug Heim, GFDC’s economic development manager, explained in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon.

GFDC has worked with Iowa-based Smart Solutions Group over the past year to complete an organizational assessment that resulted in the board approving a one-year business plan designed to provide “a sense of direction and transparency for the organization as well as set the stage for creating a strong sense of ownership and accountability by its members,” the press release stated.

“A regional partnership with Greater Omaha will allow Fremont to leverage resources and maximize benefits through increased exposure and access to information, ideas, technical support, marketing and prospect leads and referrals,” Heim said.

Bob Henningsen, a partner with Smart Solutions Group, explained the importance of joining the partnership.

“This alliance with the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership is a very significant strategic move for the Greater Fremont Development Council,” he said. “The trend throughout the U.S. is toward building strong, mutually beneficial regional partnerships in economic development that will lead to improved results.”

Joining the partnership will provide additional resources to GFDC, but much of the current operations will not be impacted.

GFDC continues to look for an executive director who, along with Heim and business development coordinator Barb Pierce, will maintain regular hours at their office in Fremont’s Municipal Building. The new director will also have an office at the Greater Omaha Chamber.

Other benefits of joining the partnership include enhanced employee benefits, professional services and national exposure.

David G. Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Omaha Chamber, welcomed the partnership.

“When recruiting business with a regional approach, there are no county lines or city limits,” he said. “Through the joint work of the partnership team, I believe Greater Fremont can anticipate a significant increase in the number of prospects exposed to Fremont sites. I look forward to the day when we celebrate our first partnership business announcement in Fremont.”

As executive director of Washington County’s Gateway Development Corp., Paula Hazlewood has seen the partnership in action.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to have a family that not only gets excited but also supports our Washington County projects,” she said. “Joining the partnership has afforded Gateway many opportunities for success. Looking back over the past years, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

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