CHAMBER RELOCATION RECOMMENDATION.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is the Regional Engagement & Alumni Center (REAC) owned by?
Will my Kearney Area Chamber Commerce (KACC) dues increase?
The Chamber does not anticipate dues increasing because of the move. It is our goal to keep our membership affordable. Additionally, while keeping dues at par we intend to increase the value of being a member by offering more amenities and benefits through the new chamber space and the building amenities. By locating here, we will now be able to offer members services and spaces we would not otherwise be available at our current location. We see this as a primary driver to relocation. It is our goal to create and return value to the members of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce.
How much increased office space will the Chamber have at the REAC?
The Chamber currently has about 1100 square feet. The Chamber will have 2000 square feet of practical functional space at the REAC. The plan is to have an internal executive board room, office space(s), small kitchenette, storage, and flex space for uses like video production, interviews, zoom meetings etc. The space will be further defined as we work through the space programing with our design team.
What is the Chamber’s plan for the additional flexible space at the REAC?
The Chamber is developing and considering multiple value added programs such as: a video production office for members to use, added office/flex space to accommodate the current staff and an additional team member to help with membership, convenient storage space to house educational and event materials eliminating the need for offsite storage and an executive conference room. Additionally, we see the need for an incubator office, which may also provide a dual spot to host students interested in learning more about the Chamber and civic services. The REAC’s flexible space will be used for educational and professional business meetings. The space will not be used for traditional social events like weddings, parties, etc.
Will Chamber members have access to the flexible space?
Yes, as a Chamber member, you will have access to the space, and this will be an added benefit and value to your membership. Details of a cost structure have not yet been determined.
How much parking will be available at REAC?
Parking will be approximately 4:1 or over 200 stalls in the adjacent building parking lot. Additionally, there are convenient, on-street parking stalls surrounding the building. All the stalls are for the building and its use and will not be used by UNK students.
What is the plan for the current building, the Chamber Center?
The Chamber is considering keeping the current building and continuing to lease it to the current tenants of the building. Current tenants are in need of more space as well, so this concept is a win-win for everyone.
The Chamber is considering keeping one office at the current building to preserve a presence and maintain collaboration with the Economic Development Council of Buffalo County, Kearney Visitors Bureau and the Nebraska Cattlemen's Classic.
Isn’t the Chamber Center in a good location?
The Chamber, based on feedback from its members, needs to be accessible. It is a convenient location for some entities to be close to the interstate but not vital for the Chamber’s success. Our members are spread over Buffalo County and wider. Many Chamber members have never stepped foot into our current location. The new location will be part of a growing area of Kearney and conveniently centrally located off Highway 30 with easy access, good visibility, and signage.
Is there a defined requirement or proposed timeline for the Chamber to commit to the REAC?
No, we have not been notified of a timeline. The REAC anticipates breaking ground in the Spring of 2021 and expected to be completed in the Summer of 2022.
Is there a schedule of proposed build-out costs for which KACC would be responsible in a move to REAC?
The Chamber has not pursued working with an interior architect yet to develop a Price Space Plan to give to a general contractor to obtain preliminary pricing for the proposed project. The Chamber has negotiated $50 a square foot for build out costs with the investment company. The Chamber anticipates another $100,000 in costs. That is $5000 over 20 years, which is less or the same amount the Chamber spends on repairs and maintenance on the current building every year.
Is there a value to the Chamber to co-locate with the Buffalo County Economic Development, Kearney Visitors Bureau and the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic?
The Chamber will continue to be intentional about maintaining and increasing the collaboration with these entities and other partnerships around the Kearney area. The Chamber invites the KVB and EDC to be an ex-officio on the KACC Board and the Chamber has two spots on the EDC board; currently Ken Mehlin and the President/CEO of the Chamber hold those positions. No matter the location, the KACC is adamant about working with all Kearney organizations for the continued strength and success of our business community.
Have you considered whether visibility and awareness achieved at the current location would be lost if the chamber moved from this location?
Yes, the Chamber has surveyed and interviewed its membership and the consensus is the location of the Chamber is not as important as it once might have been. Today, being accessible is more important to our members than the location of our building. Businesses don't join the Chamber based on the building location. Businesses don't remain a member of the Chamber based on the building location. Many members have never stepped foot into our current building, therefore, having an online presence has become vital to operating a successful Chamber. The Chamber membership is more concerned with additional services, benefits and resources than a location. The relocation and the growth of the Chamber is a response to the membership demands over the past few years. At the end of the day it is just a building, it's the members and organization that make it great.
Is there a concern about the perception of conflicts of interest with current Chamber members when moving to the REAC?
No, the Chamber has operated an organization of integrity for over 100 years and is very transparent in any potential conflicts of interest. The Chamber gives all of our members an opportunity to utilize their services when necessary. The Chamber will continue to be intentional about keeping its own identity and continuing to help businesses succeed.
Has the Chamber considered providing services that competes with businesses in Kearney, and how that might affect membership impact?
The Chamber is aware of how we could compete with other businesses in the Kearney area. Owning property and leasing competes with some of our members. The marketing opportunities we provide for our members could be competitive with some of our members. Part of the value proposition to join the Chamber is we offer in-expensive opportunities to make your business more successful. While we are sensitive about competing with our members, we are committed to continuing to add benefits for our members.The Chamber’s move to the REAC will provide an opportunity for the members to utilize a variety of spaces which is a current need of our members. For instance, due to a great demand, the current Chamber boardroom is overbooked and is limited for space. At the end of the day, the REAC will bring in more people to Kearney that will stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop in our community.
Are there risks of loss of memberships due to this relocation?
We strive to help every business throughout all industries. We have members that have been with the Chamber for over 50 years, every member and even businesses in the Kearney area have benefited from the KACC in some way. Lastly, we believe in “Community over Competition.” We are better together.
Another benefit of expansion of the Chamber is to reach out to a new group of customers. Although the Chamber has an excellent membership, there is always the opportunity to add new members when we expand, especially if that expansion involves the introduction of new benefits and services. We look forward to growing our Chamber family.
Has the board completed a comprehensive analysis of the financial aspects of the recommendation?
Yes, please see the below the Net Present Value analysis. This has different scenarios.
Has the Board considered whether the sale of the Chamber Center is good stewardship of Chamber assets?
Yes, while the Chamber Center has been an asset since it was purchased for $518,761.30 in 2003, the Chamber can be in a better position financially with a move to the REAC. The Board is considering keeping the asset of the Chamber Center but restructuring agreements with the current tenants to shift the responsibility of managing the building. This keeps the Chamber in a positive financial position as well as removing the distraction of managing property. The Chamber is and needs to stay focused on providing benefits, services, resources, etc. for our members and relocating to the REAC adds more value to the membership.