New executive economic director, Diane Wettstein, has scouted Nebraska over the past year for a job.
“I’ve been looking to move out this way. I really love Nebraska,” she said.
From Metamora, Ill., Wettstein has a daughter, Heather Ramsey, in Bruning and when she saw the Thayer County Economic Development Alliance online advertisement, she called Ramsey.
“She thought it would be great,” Wettstein said. “I’m such a people person and I like to help.”
Admittedly, Wettstein’s background isn’t in economic development, but teaching. Her background, however, is in agriculture.
“I raised three children in agriculture,” she said.
She taught seventh and eighth grade science and horticulture and then became a student service coordinator, assisting students with housing, funding and other services at a technical school.
One of her worries was she didn’t have a background in grant writing, but she has seminars to attend.
“I have a good support group and plenty of people I can go to for questions,” she said.
The county itself is a network, she added. The seminars focus on economic development and entrepreneurship. And, she is partnering with Nebraska Extension’s Jacie Millius in the youth development projects to continue that part of TCEDA.
Wettstein describes herself as personable, outgoing and an “out of the box” thinker.
She grew up in a town of 200 and graduated in a class of 78, so she understands the values of small communities, she said.
“Let’s make sure everyone realizes how great they have what they have,” she said. “I’ve seen people working well together in communities and that’s what I want to help with.”
During her first week on the job, Wettstein saw more than 17 businesses.
“I’ve met quite a few people and will be going to village boards. I want people to know I’m a real person and I really want to be here,” she said.
She’s used to people – Wettstein has served on parent organizations, helped with a number of fundraising events, started youth groups and taught Sunday School as well as participating in other church-related activities.
Wettstein will be guided by the TCEDA board and will have her hands in a variety of organizations.
She is already part of Hebron’s Revitalization Committee and looking into an economic development program that will propel the county into eligibility for grants.