A few years ago, Deborah M. Markley, a North Carolina-based economist who studies rural communities, spent time in Norfolk and Madison County and prepared a report on that area’s economy and quality of life.
Her report pointed to a series of positive ingredients:
Energetic civic leadership. Economic diversification. Smart investment in community assets. The strength of Northeast Community College. Outreach to young people. Effective use of community foundations for local needs.
Markley also found something else. Folks in Norfolk and Madison County, she said, showed an understanding that in the 21st-century economy, development in most cases must be nurtured from within.
One of Norfolk’s key tools for nurturing economic growth — the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce — has just been saluted at the national level.
It has been named by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives organization as its 2013 Chamber of the Year among cities of 100,000 people or less. The news was announced at the national chamber of commerce convention in Oklahoma City.
The Norfolk chamber also was a finalist for the top prize in 2011, when it came in second.
This award underscores the important contributions that chambers of commerce make to community life. It also adds to the commendable record of achievement in one of Nebraska’s most forward-looking areas, Norfolk and Madison County.