Valley County Fund Investing in People


Originally published by 10/11’s Pure Nebraska program

A local construction business near Ord is one example of an organization that’s benefited from endowments and community funding.

Jeana and Tanner Hackel operate Hackel Construction, which started as a residential construction company in 2002. The owners are now involved in the commercial market, too. “We are a project management team, we facilitate the process,” Tanner Hackel said. “We do everything, including the very initial communication with the owner. If needed, we’ll take them through the design phase, and on to the construction.” Their headquarters can be found inside a renovated country schoolhouse southwest of Ord on Highway 70. “This actually used to be Vinton school. It was a local country school, and it had been used up until a year before we purchased it,” Tanner said.

Just by looking at the beautifully renovated building, you can tell Hackel Construction is going strong. Part of the success can be traced back to what’s known as the Synovation Leadership Academy or SVLA in Ord. It’s a six month program that is investing in the people of Valley County. “My experience with it was, I was a young mom, with three small children,” Jeana Hackel said. “I was also in business with Tanner, and I felt overwhelmed.” Jeana and Tanner Hackel enrolled in SVLA, and they say it’s made a difference in both their work and home life. “What I learned from SVLA is that our thoughts create our actions. We are either creating our life or reacting to it, and that was a new concept for me,” Jeana said. “What I realized was, I was focusing on what I didn’t want to happen, and that was actually coming true. So, I changed my thoughts.”

Bob Stowell of Ord says the Synovation Leadership Academy is funded through the Valley County Community Foundation Fund. It’s an example of how the money from endowments is strengthening the lives of local residents. “The Nebraska Community Foundation has helped us learn how to make strategic grants, invest in people, and invest in programs, rather than bricks and mortar,” Stowell said. “Those last. And the Nebraska Community Foundation helped us better understand endowments and particularly, unrestricted endowments. Our endowments have allowed us to continue this Synovation Leadership Program which was initially started with an external grant.”

Through the Synovation Leadership Academy, people like Melanie Boden confirmed her passion for catering, and started a business in downtown Ord. Endowment money from the Valley County Community Foundation Fund also supports arts and entertainment options at the Golden Husk theater.

“We are getting to experience amazing and exceptional performing arts right here in rural Nebraska,” Golden Husk Theater Director Dahn Hagge said.

Bob Stowell points out the Valley County Community Foundation Fund is named that for a reason, because it benefits all of Valley County, and not just Ord. “Right now we have $6 Million in endowments in Valley County that we can use in a number of ways,” Stowell said. Jeana and Tanner Hackel are glad the endowments are able to support the local Synovation Leadership Academy, because they say there’s no doubt that SVLA has enriched their lives. “I was able to focus on what I really wanted, and what I really wanted was good communication skills with my family, I wanted connection with people,” Jeana said. “I wanted not to be afraid of conflict. And that’s what I received.”

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