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Scotts Bluff County hires tourism director
February 22, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Brenda Leisy

Brenda Leisy, a Panhandle native now working with Cabela’s in Sidney, has been hired as Scotts Bluff County’s new tourism director.

“I started out in economic development,” Leisy said. “To an extent, it’s very similar to tourism. All of us collaborated and worked together to promote tourism, economic development and the activities of the various chambers of commerce.”

The agency she was with was the Nebraska Northwest Development Corporation, headquartered in the Chamber of Commerce building in Chadron. The agency serves Dawes, Sioux and Sheridan Counties.

“I worked very closely with the chamber and the other economic development director to meet a number of challenges,” she said. “I also was the first contact for tourists who came to the chamber for information.”

A graduate of Chadron State College, Leisy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration, majoring in marketing. She’s currently working at Cabela’s and is on their merchandising team for rods, reels and fly fishing.

“I grew up near Broadwater, so I love camping, fishing and hunting,” she said.”I’ve been goose hunting since I could walk.”

When she learned the county was seeking a new tourism director, Leisy said she wanted to put her expertise and training back to work.

“I think the biggest challenge we face in the tourism industry right now is the economy,” she said. “It’s hard to talk people into traveling when we’re expecting such high gas prices.”

During her interview with county commissioners and members of the county tourism committee, she said they should make a special focus on people already living here.

“We want them to come back and rediscover what’s in their own back yard,” she said. “Sometimes we can forget the monument is such as wonderful place to go for a picnic.”

She also said the county’s tourism effort should target the Front Range area, where people within easy driving distance might want to come here for a weekend without breaking the bank.

County Personnel Director Jerry Crable told the county board they had 11applications for the position and the committee narrowed that down to four finalists, who were interviewed. All of them were from the Panhandle region.

“It was encouraging to have so many well-qualified applicants from the area,” said County Commission Chairman Mark Masterton. “It’s been a long process getting here.”

The Scotts Bluff County Tourism Committee had approached the county board last fall about hiring a tourism director that would be a county employee. Three independent contractors had earlier applied for the work when the county asked for proposals. However, the tourism committee felt uncomfortable with all the applications.

Leisy will start as tourism director on March 12. The county board is still in the process of finding suitable office space for the new hire, along with determining what level of support staff will be needed. They should make a decision at their next meeting on March 5.

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