Episode 28: Economic developer Garry Clark intersects workforce development, quality of life, fighting through fear


There is opportunity in fighting through fear says Garry Clark, Executive Director of the Greater Fremont Development Council in Fremont, Neb. He would know. Garry grew up in the Washington, D.C., projects where he witnessed drug addiction. When he had the opportunity to hop on a plane to Nebraska to accept a track scholarship, he took it. And with that leap, a ton of hard work and incredible talent, he became a national champion for Dana College. Garry talks about his journey and his deep love for rural places and Nebraska in his new book, Unlikely Viking and through this episode of our podcast.

Dr. Connie’s conversation with Garry took place in January 2019. They dove into his vision for the future of economic development, which he said in Fremont is focused on engaging current and potential residents through quality of life initiatives. They also talked workforce and the coming technologies that will impact recruitment of businesses as well as housing issues and funding opportunities.

Since their conversation, Fremont, Neb., and much of Northeast Nebraska has been significantly impacted by flooding in March 2019. Lives were lost and Nebraska’s damage is estimated at $1.8 billion. We touched base with Garry, and he says Fremont is in recovery mode. He urges listeners to donate to the American Red Cross.

“For 40 years or so, we’ve been smoke stack chasing — we’ve been looking for that big win that’s supposed to permeate our lives in rural places. And we’ve come to the realization that the only thing that sustains rural life are the people, and how we engage those people.”
Garry Clark

About Garry


Garry is the Executive Director of the Greater Fremont Development Council. In 2018, Garry was listed as a Midland’s Business Journal 40 under 40 winner and Fremont won Community of the Year. He is a native Washingtonian who graduated from Dana College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a master’s degree in Urban Studies.

Garry joined the Greater Fremont Development Council (GRDC) in Fremont, Neb., in September 2017. Prior to his GFDC role, Garry worked as the NIFA Opportunity Fund Manager out of the Omaha, Neb., and Lincoln, Neb., offices. Before that, he served as Cuming County Economic Development Director for five years in Northeast Nebraska.

Garry is a member of the National Rural Economic Developers Association and served as Northeast Development Network Chair. He received his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Dana College in Blair, Neb., and and his master’s degree in Urban Studies and Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Although his alma mater (Dana College) is no more, Garry was inducted into the Dana College Hall of Fame for Track and Field in 2010. He holds 11 records (most ever in the schools history) and was the first male National Champion for Dana College. Prior to his work in Nebraska, Garry started out as a City Planner, Main Street Manager and Economic Development Specialist in both Florida and in Washington, D.C.

Get Garry’s Book, Unlikely Viking! » 

And be sure to check out more about “Unlikely Viking” on Instagram


Bold Voices Student Segment

 Sarah Hotovy, a third-year medical student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) — Listen at 15:47 of Episode 28!

The York, Neb., native is the student regent and student senate president at UNMC.

“The University of Nebraska is an incredible institution. It’s thriving, and it’s got incredible leadership that we’re really lucky to have,” she said.

Sarah hopes to dedicate her career to affordable healthcare access for both rural and urban residents. “I think that everyone deserves access to high-quality medical care,” she said. “If we can keep people healthier, we’re going to be more prosperous as a state,” she continued.

Read the full Bold Voices release! »


Show Notes

Coming soon!