Merrill native Susan Ryman is excited take on the challenges in her new role as Lincoln County Economic Development Director. Ryman is taking over for the retiring Jack Sroka, who has served the county since 2003.
When the Lincoln County Economic Development Director position became available, Ryman saw it as a chance to do what she’s passionate about – helping businesses grow and succeed.
“When this opportunity came along, I felt like what an opportunity to really make a difference in a community we chose to be our home,” she said.
Following five years out of state, Ryman and her husband picked Merrill six years ago as the community in which to raise their children.
After moving back to Merrill, Ryman worked for Northcentral Technical College as the marketing and public relations coordinator and then as virtual college coordinator. Ryman, who holds a master’s degree in administrative leadership, has worked with area businesses on grants and strategies.
She was also asked by Merrill Mayor Bill Bialecki to be part of a business growth and retention committee.
The Economic Development Director’s job is not only to attract new business to the county, but also to help existing businesses succeed and expand.
“It’s exciting to work with businesses,” Ryman said. “There are so many things we can offer. Every day presents some new way to make an impact.”
The Economic Development office can help with business plans, growth plans, marketing, web sites, grant opportunities and more.
“The goal is to help a business be successful,” she said.
Her new position is giving Ryman a different perspective on her home county.
“It’s a really nice benefit, being from this community,” she said. “You know what it’s like to live here and be part of the economy when it’s good and when it’s bad.”
Stepping into retirement after more than 10 years as Lincoln County Economic Development Director, Sroka can look back on a decade of quiet victories. Sroka was seldom in the limelight, doing most of his work behind the scenes on numerous projects, including Northcentral Technical College Public Safety Center of Excellence, Russ Davis Wholesale, Zastrow’s The Beer Man and Walgreen’s.
“There is no limit to what you can accomplish as long as you don’t care who gets the credit,” he said.
From March 2003 to December 2012, the activities of Lincoln County Economic Development helped bring $42 million into the county. Taking into account the economic impact of jobs, increased tax base, tax credits and related benefits, Sroka said his office returned $51.66 for every dollar spent.
“The thing that I consider to be a major accomplishment is being able to work with existing businesses and new businesses coming in, and being a part of successful projects,” Sroka said.