Long-time director Renee Seifert's departure left the Hall County Visitor Promotion Committee with big shoes to fill, but Monday morning they announced that they found someone with a lot of central Nebraska tourism experience who can try.
"We began the process in late September, we looked both locally and nationally," says committee chair Mike Swanson.
They found their new director locally: current Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center Director Brad Mellema will soon helm the Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"I just love living in Nebraska and what a great opportunity to basically sell this community of Grand Island to other people, to invite them to come here and show them the quality of life we have here," says Mellema.
Mellema believes Grand Island can keep growing by using both big events and small businesses to attract visitors.
"Think big like the State Fair complex, Stuhr Museum, the cranes, those are big things, but the other thing is the personality of this town that might come from a mom and pop shop or a restaurant or a small downtown art center," he says.
Mellema will transition into his new job just ahead of the Sandhill crane migration - something that's been the Nature and Visitors Center's specialty.
Bureau officials say it's a great example of what the Hall County area has to offer and expand upon.
"A lot of us who grew up around here we look at those birds and don't think much, but from a wider perspective, it's a pretty unique, pretty special thing that happens every spring and we have a lot of those events going on," says Swanson.
"Obviously I have a little more background than some folks would, but I think that's an asset that is really just scratching the surface for this area and we can really continue to bring people here and it's a part of who we are," says Mellema.
Mellema says he's worked with a lot of tourism industry officials as part of his duties at the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center. The president of the Crane Trust says they'll start looking for Mellema's replacement in the coming weeks.