Following a 23-year career in community and economic development, Thomas L. Higginbotham Jr, on August 30, 2023, announced his resignation as Executive Director of the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD) to the board of directors effective December 15, 2023.
Higginbotham has accepted a position at BankFirst in Norfolk starting December 27, 2023. He started with NENEDD in May 2000 as a Community Planner and rose to Executive Director and served in that capacity from 2006-2023. During his time as Executive Director, he also served on the National Association of Development Organization (NADO) board of directors representing Nebraska, advocating at the federal level for the programs that Nebraska communities use for growth. He also served on the board of the Nebraska Regional Official Council (NROC), the state association of the eight Nebraska Economic Development Districts. During his 23 years, Higginbotham has been a part of over $122 million in grants and loans that created and retained over 3,300 jobs and assisted nearly 900 housing units.

Higginbotham said “ It has been an extreme pleasure to have served Northeast Nebraska in this role. The partnerships, collaborations and friendships formed over the years have been tremendous in our success. I am extremely excited and looking forward to my new position at BankFirst. I am thrilled to be a part of the BankFirst team as they continue to grow, and I cannot wait to get to work!”

At the same board of directors meeting, NENEDD Deputy Director Tina Engelbart announced her resignation effective December 1, 2023. She joined the NENEDD staff in January of 2005 as a Community Planner/Housing Loan Specialist and has served in her current capacity since March of 2006.
During her tenure with NENEDD, Engelbart assisted in all facets of operating NENEDD/NED, Inc., including budgetary and programmatic activities, policy development, designing the annual work plan, staffing, meeting with NENEDD members and oversight of program implementation.  In addition, she has served on the Nebraska Housing Developers Association (NHDA) Board of Directors since 2015 and serves as the current Chairperson.  Ms. Engelbart is a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Senior Certified Professional and has been a licensed Realtor in the State of Nebraska since 2012.
Engelbart has accepted a position at a local non-profit organization and will remain in Norfolk. “After 29 years in community and economic development, I am excited about the opportunity to explore a new field where I can still have a positive impact on people’s lives. I am forever grateful for the relationships and experiences I’ve had while being part of the NENEDD team serving northeast Nebraska.”
Charlie Bahr, NENEDD Board Chair and Councilman for the City of Columbus said, ” While  the entire NENEDD board is saddened to be losing two such valuable long-time employees, we wish them nothing but the best in their new endeavors.”
The NENEDD board of directors will begin the hiring process for an Executive Director immediately. The plan moving forward will be to get an Executive Director in place so that person can hire a Deputy Director. If you are interested in the Executive Director’s position, please send a cover letter and resume to Charlie Bahr, Board Chair, 111 South 1st Street, Norfolk NE, 68701 or email  The position will be open until filled. EOE.