Chamber of Commerce workshops aim to help businesses prepare for the future

Richard Baier is the executive vice president of the Forging Nebraska’s Future initiative.

Transitioning a business or drawing up a succession plan can be complicated processes and ones avoided until it’s too late. It’s the hope of Forging Nebraska’s Future, an initiative by the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, that three statewide workshops on the topic early next month will help.

The goal of the interactive, one-day programs is to introduce small-business owners and agricultural producers to ways they can compete in the state’s changing global marketplace while also positioning their business for transition or succession, said Richard Baier, the executive vice president of the Forging Nebraska’s Future initiative.

Larry Kopsa, a partner in the York-based accounting and tax advising firm Kopsa Otte CPAs and Advisors and a workshop speaker, said there are many Nebraska baby boomers nearing retirement age who haven’t thought about what’s next. While this topic can be emotional, it’s one that has significant implications if not thought about a couple or several years in advance.

Many of his clients start to think about transitioning their business just six months before they want to sell or pass it on. That’s not enough time to come up with a solid plan, he said.

“When that store shuts down or that business shuts down and if no one’s there to pick it up, it hurts the community, especially a small community,” Kopsa said.

Nick Niemann, a partner in Omaha law firm McGrath North and another speaker to be featured at the workshops, said, “Today we have a perfect storm which is shortening the lives of most business models.

“Globalization of the marketplace, post-recession new normals and rapid technology developments are combining to make business model redesign critical if you want your company to stay successful.”

The concept for the workshops came about after the chamber last year sought public opinion online as to how to make the state a better place to live, work and play. Then, earlier this year, the chamber released “100 Next Generation Ideas,” (PDF) a publication of suggestions that “have the greatest potential to transform Nebraska.”

A need for a kind of business transition or succession planning program for young farmers and small-business owners made the list under the general category of fostering a strong business climate.

Other general categories that the chamber wants to serve as a road map for Nebraska’s future:

 » Modernize government and improve efficiency.

 » Cultivate a dynamic education system.

 » Create a world-class workforce.

 » Build healthy and connected communities.

 » Increase the state’s population to 2 million residents by 2022.

The three business transition or succession planning workshops are set for Sept. 4 at Mahoney State Park near Ashland; Sept. 5 at Younes Conference Center in Kearney; and Sept. 6 at Divots Conference Center in Norfolk. Each will last from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Speakers will emphasize topics such as family issues, tax and legal planning and maximizing profit through a transition.

The cost, which covers lunch and refreshments, is $99 for chamber members, either state or local. The cost for attendees who aren’t chamber members is $150. Additional people from the same business may attend for $35.

The first 40 people to register at each location will win a 30-minute consulting visit with a Nebraska business planning expert.

To register or for more information, visit, or call 402-474-4422.

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