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Podcast: Managing Your Hometown with Nick Edwards, Joplin, MO

Posted on January 12, 2021


Nick Edwards

Nick Edwards
City Manager
City of Joplin, Missouri
LinkedIn


Who says you can’t go home? Nick Edwards, City Manager of the City of Joplin, Missouri joined the podcast to talk about his career path in local government and coming home to Joplin to become the City Manager. He talked about building new relationships during COVID-19 and how the City has responded to the pandemic. Nick also shared the City’s strategic planning process and his plans for 2021.

Host: Lauren Palmer

 

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Episode Transcription

 

Lauren Palmer  00:00

Coming to you from Independence, Missouri, this is Gov Love, a podcast about local government. Gov Love is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Lauren Palmer, a Gov Love co host and the Director of Local Government Services for the Mid-America Regional Council. Today, I’m joined by Nick Edwards, the City Manager of Joplin, Missouri. Nick, welcome to Gov Love.

Nick Edwards  00:28

Hey, Lauren, it’s good to hear from you. I’m excited for this podcast.

Lauren Palmer  00:31

Well, thanks! So are we, we can’t wait to hear from you. So today we’ll talk about Nick’s experience during his first year as City Manager in his hometown, and ask him to answer for us that age old question about can you go home again. But first, let’s get started with a signature Gov Love lightning round. This is our opportunity just to get to know you a little better Nick in a more informal way. So we’ll start off with our first lightning round question, which is, what food do most people enjoy, but you do not?

Nick Edwards  00:58

I’m not sure how many people enjoy it, but I’m gonna go with tomatoes. Those are awful. And something that I can barely stomach, so.

Lauren Palmer  01:08

Really, like any kind of tomato? lLke there’s all different varieties and cooked and raw doesn’t matter.

Nick Edwards  01:16

Well, so now I understand the question. What What do I enjoy? You know, I enjoy probably a hamburger or something, but I don’t know.

Lauren Palmer  01:25

You got the question right. The question is, What food do most people enjoy, but you hate. So you hate tomatoes?

Nick Edwards  01:32

Yeah, hate them, despise them, can’t can’t do it. I’ve tried.

Lauren Palmer  01:35

What about like tomato products? like ketchup or pizza sauce?

Nick Edwards  01:39

Yeah, that’s all fine. Some of the sauce is is questionable, but tomatoes are just a problem for me.

Lauren Palmer  01:45

Got it. Wow. Okay, thanks. So our next question, what’s your most controversial non political opinion?

Nick Edwards  01:54

I’m not sure how controversial it can be. It’s pretty settled in my mind. Dogs are better than cats is what I think is true.

Lauren Palmer  02:04

Yeah, I’m rock solid with you on that one. I don’t know if that’s controversial. Sorry, cat lovers. But yeah, I think it’s pretty well known universal fact that dogs are better than cats and really better than most humans. Sorry, humans.

Nick Edwards  02:16

If you just compare based on Joy, joy provided a dog, I mean, that, that should be the only, I mean, that’s the reason why you pick a dog or a cat. I mean, they just, they bring so much joy to the house. And you know, they’re always happy. And another bright spot of my day. So dogs are better than cats.

Lauren Palmer  02:56

So that’s awesome. So you must have a dog.

Nick Edwards  02:59

Yeah, Louie. He’s a five year old Boston Terrier. So Boston Terrier, they have those big ears the big pointy ears. And we’re pretty much best friends, look forward to our special time every night when I come home and get to see him. So yeah, lots of joy in the house. 

Lauren Palmer  03:20

That really is the best. All right, and then finally, where was your most memorable vacation and tell us why it was a memorable.

Nick Edwards  03:29

You know, I’m gonna have to maybe take an easy answer here and kind of say, my, my honeymoon. I’m been married for three years. And so it’s just, it was an incredible experience to my wife and I had to travel. We went to Tahiti three years ago, and so it was just, you know, something that I don’t think I’ll ever get to do again. But it was a memorable experience. It was my wife is more of the type that likes to enjoy, you know, laying on the beach and more than relaxation stuff. I like a little adventure from time. So it was a good mix. We we got both of those things done. And it was just a just a really great time.

Lauren Palmer  04:20

That sounds so nice. And I’m sure it’s gonna get some points for you with your wife that you picked her honeymoon.

Nick Edwards  04:26

Yeah, well, she she made a good too. So I’m thankful for her and she’s a blessing in my life. That’s my most memorable vacation.

Lauren Palmer  04:37

Nice. Okay, well, let’s get started with our program today, Nick. To start, we really like our guests to just tell us a little bit about their career path. On Gov Love, we like to celebrate all the different ways that people come into the profession of local government. So tell us a little bit about your path and how you got into the role that you’re in now.

Nick Edwards  05:00

Sure, um, you know, I, in school, I kind of had a non traditional path. So maybe my path, the career is non traditional too, but you know, not going back all the way. But when I was in high school, I didn’t quite understand or didn’t quite have a direction as to where I was going and didn’t have much of a drive. And so I ended up going into the military. And so I was fortunate, honored to serve in the United States Marine Corps, enlisted in ’99. So that was the first year of Clinton’s presidency. And so when you take the oath, you know, you swear to support and defend the Constitution. And so I did that and, you know, 9/11 happened. And so I got to kind of back up that oath a little bit and serve some time in Iraq before getting out of the Marine Corps in 2003. I didn’t really have a plan, I knew I kind of wanted to go to school. So after I left the military, I went back home, Joplin, Missouri, Missouri Southern University, Missouri Southern State University. I didn’t really didn’t have a plan, so to speak, I didn’t have direction, my strategy was to take, take a wide variety of classes and pick a major that was close to the most interesting class that I had, and try to pursue a career related to that. And I think I was fortunate. I had political science class in my first first year there at Missouri Southern, and one of the professor’s was a former City Manager. And so he taught the classes from, the political science classes, from the kind of a City Manager perspective, and it was just really interesting. I still didn’t, you know, I was, in, you know, the political science major, I ended up getting a Bachelor’s I, but I was still wrestling with, you know, what do I do with this degree? There’s so many things that I enjoyed about it. And they were interesting to me. So I kind of thought about, maybe the law school path, but I took a year off of school to kind of, you know, look at the LSAT, do the GRE, I think it was the GRE, but took a year out after I graduated, kind of figure that out. I ended up running into my professor, what after I’d graduated, and he kind of just had a direct conversation with me and kind of said, you know, hey, you know, you’re struggling to, you know, know your career path. I think he’d be I think he did enjoy a career in local government, city management. And so I got that nudge. And, you know, I think it was, I think having his vote of confidence or support kind of was was really influential to me. So from there, I got my master’s at Missouri State, and graduated from Missouri State with public administration degree in 2010. And then started in the, started looking for career. So 2010 was a rough time in local government. I think still feeling the effects from the recession. So kind of trying to get your foot in the door somewhere was was really tough for me. I can’t tell you how many applications I made. I mean, I would had to been over 40. And I remember taking one last look at some of the job boards and some of the postings and finding a job posting in Lee Summit and made an application to that Lee Summit, and kind of resolved myself that if this round of applications didn’t go go well that I would maybe look at going back in the military. But fortunately, I was ultimately got an interview in Lee Summit for a Public Works management analyst position, and got a phenomenal environment, just an incredible, incredible environment to start off and I was surrounded by a lot of just amazing people that I’ll always remember and always cherish and I got I got to spend nearly 10 years in Lee Summit. Held a little variety different roles from starting off in Public Works to moving to the City Manager’s Office and as a Management Analysts and working on the budget to Director of Administration where I was kind of a director of some internal service departments and then Assistant City Manager and I have many many mentors to thank Stephen Arbo, the City Manager there at Lee Summit. Bob Hartnett, the Deputy Director of Public Works that hired me in in 2010, and just a whole host of people there that they really helped help me learn and get get that valuable experience. And so from there, I, as an assistant I got to try the waters in the go for some city management jobs in a career search, and so the position here in Joplin was open, and it was the right opportunity of having, you know, feeling comfortable and making the jump. And then you know, the right opportunity. I feel like being out there, and then making that connection. So I was hired as the City Manager and March of 2020. And here I am talking to you, so it’s, there’s highs and lows on that path, but that’s the that’s the short version, I guess.

Lauren Palmer  11:27

Okay, well, thanks for sharing that. So tell us a little bit more about the city of Joplin, the community that you’re working in.

Nick Edwards  11:35

The city of Joplin is is a community, a regional hub in southwest Missouri. We’re though, locally, we’re the larger city surrounded by a couple different suburbs, Webb city, Carl Junction, Carthage, Neosho. So we, Joplin has a proud mining history and was formed and kind of developed based upon the mining industry. And so it’s really had, it’s got a long, rich history. And it’s a it’s a dynamic place to be a City Manager.

Lauren Palmer  12:14

So our longtime Gov Love listeners may be most familiar with Joplin, because of the devastating tornado that took over 160 lives and received extensive national news coverage. We actually did a Gov Love podcast in 2016, with former City Manager Sam Anselm, about the city’s resilience and responding to that event. This year will mark the 10 year anniversary of the tornado, can you tell us about that, how that event shaped the community and reflect on its influence 10 years later?

Nick Edwards  12:47

Sure. I’ll touch on the kind of the personal emotional side, there’s there’s folks in the community that are still still memorialized, or still recognize you, you know, the lives that were lost and the destruction that was caused. But there’s another segment of the community that are wanting to move on from that conversation. And so it’s an interesting dynamic to see those that are still passionate about remembering the tornado and remembering that event and kind of honoring it and, you know, celebrate something like that. But I guess you just you just honor it. And so there’s, there’s a lot of emotion, for some. And I would say it’s kind of divided that, you know, there’s also a fair amount of folks in the community that, that that are of the thought that we need to move on and not let the tornado define us as a community. So that’s kind of interesting for me to understand, as I meet people, you know, where they are on that spectrum. In terms of just kind of maybe traditional city concerns, the tornado had, you know, obviously, was, was significant in its destruction. And following that, we’ve had a I think the city’s been really successful at redeveloping the area. And so, we, what what exists here is this clash between a new redeveloped part of the community that is, you know, sparkling and new and, and, you know, looks looks nice. And then there’s a, you know, the other half of the community that wasn’t necessarily touched by the tornado that is, you know, showing some age, you know, the City of Joplin is almost 150 years old. And so, you know, it’s just this really interesting contrast between where the tornado was and, you know, the part of the community that doesn’t exist, or the community that exists, has existed for the last 150 years. So it’s interesting, it makes it makes when you see the new and the fresh and the updated stuff it makes, maybe some of the issues or the challenges that are present in the community stand out much more. So you see, blight is, is is more recognizable because you can, there’s a part of the community where that doesn’t really exist, you know, neighborhoods in decline. Those are more noticeable, because it’s just that stark contrast. So it’s an interesting, it’s an interesting place. And I’m thankful for the leaders that were here. Previously, Sam, you know, all the all the directors and council members, they did a phenomenal job with the recovery, in my view, and I think they were able to put Joplin on in a good spot for the next 150 years.

Lauren Palmer  16:02

That’s great. So you mentioned in your introduction, Nick, that Joplin is your hometown, that you went to college at Missouri Southern. And that’s really why I was interested in interviewing you, I find that really interesting, because I’m sure you’re familiar with the old adage that you can never go home again. And that notion refers to our tendency to view the past through rose colored glasses, and sometimes the reality of a place revisited, can leave us disappointed. So tell us why you decided to pursue pursue your first chief administrative role in your hometown.

Nick Edwards  16:36

Sure. It’s probably two things, you know, the the career path, I was ready for, ready for the job ready to take on the next, the next challenge. It was a goal to be a city manager, I was an assistant there in the Lee Summit, so the timing was right. But what actually made me submit the application was the fact that it was my hometown. And there are people here that I know, and care and love, that I’m invested in and I care about. And the community is one, you know, there’s still some hometown pride. And so, you know, I would like for Joplin to be a strong place, you know, a great place for high quality of life. And so I just thought it was a good intersection. And I don’t know that there’ll be another City Manager that will care for Joplin, the way that I care about Joplin. I don’t mean that arrogantly, it’s just I, there’s people here that I that I know and love, and I want them to enjoy the community that they’re in.

Lauren Palmer  17:51

So was your hometown connection referenced in your selection process?

Nick Edwards  17:57

It was. I didn’t necessarily want the job because of the hometown connection, you know, I, my emphasis during the interview was, you know, experience, I think coming from high quality community like Lee Summit, you know, getting the learn from some of the great mentors there. I felt like I had some knowledge that I could bring back to Joplin to help improve the community. And that’s, that’s what I tried to emphasize with Council, was, was that experience and it was a benefit, or the cherry on top, that it was my hometown. It certainly makes makes the being personally invested, that certainly helps.

Lauren Palmer  18:50

Yeah, I just wondered if, in what ways did it help or hinder you? I mean, I can imagine that that could easily cut both ways.

Nick Edwards  18:58

Yeah. You know that I’ve heard it can’t be, you know, somebody said, well I think I’m gonna butcher this quote, you can’t be a prophet in your own hometown. You know, there, there is some familiarity bias with, you know, maybe this person grew up here, you know, they’re from here, what what could they know, if they’re, you know, if they, if this was their hometown, you know, can they really lead the community if this is all we know? And but, yeah, you know, what I say to that is I have that investment that drive that energy because it is my home too and I feel like the right experience to lead Joplin forward. But it, it certainly was an influence. And I don’t I have yet to see where Joplin being my hometown where that hindrance or a problem.

Lauren Palmer  20:07

Yeah. Now that you have the job, do you feel like the hometown connection has influenced how you approach the work?

Nick Edwards  20:17

Oh, goodness, that’s, that’s a good question. I don’t I don’t think so. Um, I understand, my I think the benefit of obviously being serving a hometown, I have some existing relationships that I can call on. And so some of those relationships are folks that are, you know, civic minded, you know, maybe leaders in the community. And so I kind of already understand maybe the political landscape, but I don’t know that that really is an influence. To me, I think the focus is still you know, one of those best practices in local government management, you know, what, what do successful managers do? That’s, that’s kind of what I’m trying to fall back on rather than, you know, knowledge of the hometown, so.

Lauren Palmer  21:16

So you mentioned your professor at MSSU, who really mentored you and encouraged you to consider a career in local government? I’m just curious, does that person still work at the university? And are you like, on call now to show up for in class speaking engagements anytime he or she asks? 

Nick Edwards  21:39

No. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to connect he. His name was Dr. Simpson Tom Simpson. He retired shortly after I graduated, retired to Alabama. So I haven’t had a chance to get with him. But if he listens to this, Dr. Simpson, shout out, thank you. If you’d pass me your number somehow, I’d love to connect with you.

Lauren Palmer  22:11

That’s great. Well, hopefully, he’s a Gov Love listener.

Nick Edwards  22:14

Yeah.

Lauren Palmer  22:16

So is there anything that surprised you since coming home? I’m sure the Joplin that you experienced in your youth is a little different than the community you’re experiencing now as a professional.

Nick Edwards  22:29

Yeah, I think the most surprising, most surprising thing and I might not be going where you want me to go here with this, but it was more of an emotion I find myself kind of getting frustrated. You know, obviously being new in there’s there’s things or issues in the community that you want to fix you wanna solve, and the frustration is not being able to do it all in one day. And, you know, sometimes I have to get to check myself on that. And all the I think all your Gov love, listeners will understand that sometimes the things that we do to make communities better take a long time, and it’s just the other edge of the sword is because this is my hometown, because there are people here that I know and care and love, the expectations are I feel like are greater or at least I’ve made those expectations for myself. And so not being able to deliver them at the pace that I wanted to and, and, and make it right for for those people is frustrating to me. So it’s something I have to keep in check. But also just keep keep my head down and keep working towards improvement.

Lauren Palmer  23:52

So speaking of that, you had a special surprise guest at the press conference when your appointment as City Manager was announced. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Nick Edwards  24:01

Sure. My mom surprised me by showing up at the press conference announcement. So I was totally unprepared for that. She almost got me choked up, because she was in the back getting choked up. So I don’t even know. I need to ask her how she figured, I guess it was advertised in the paper or notice in the paper, that there was going to be an announcement. But you know, she’s, she’s a professional. You know, she’s, she has a professional in accounting in the, works for an accounting firm down here. And so, you know, she, I think she was just proud and wanted to be there and, and kind of see see my press conference. So it was it was a good moment for me.

Lauren Palmer  24:52

Mom’s always know, they always know.

Nick Edwards  24:56

They sure do. They sure do

Lauren Palmer  24:59

So, talk to me a little bit more about that, just the personal impact. How has this experience been for your parents or other extended family? All of a sudden, there’s a bit of a local celebrity in the family.

Nick Edwards  25:12

You know, I, I don’t I try to push back on the celebrity stuff. I don’t. I’m your wallflower guy. You know, I like to hold up the wall. So I don’t really enjoy that, that spotlight. But you know, it’s there, the conversations have changed certainly, you know, now, my mom and you know, my family, they what’s going on in Joplin? You know, what’s the scoop? You know, what, what are you working on? And they didn’t really ask me too much about that, in Lee Summit, it was how are you doing? You know, did you get your taxes paid all that kind of stuff. So, but now, now I think they’re enjoying hearing what’s going on in the city in a different way, and so it’s a little different, you know, in my family time, and personal time, try not to talk, talk shop as much and kind of disconnect for a minute. But it is also fun to share, you know, the fun stuff that’s happening in the community.

Lauren Palmer  26:21

So I’m going to switch gears just a little bit, you started your job on March 16, which I understand is the same day that state and local COVID-19 stay at home orders were issued. So talk to us about that, how did you adapt your management plan to respond to an urgent situation?

Nick Edwards  26:39

Oh, my goodness, you know, I don’t, I don’t know that I had some big grand defined strategy. You know, I feel like in city management 101 school, or whatever that is, you know, they tell you, things you should do, you know, when you’re new to an organization, you seek to build those relationships, you know, maybe kind of learn about the environment, you know, do those kind of nice, foundational things. And so, I, I was kind of, I feel like the, with a pandemic, starting when it did, I feel like I, I didn’t get that opportunity, it was kind of diving into the pool, so to speak. And so it was, you know, having meetings, relatively important and about, you know, how we’re going to respond to this with people that, I don’t know, they don’t know me, so they don’t know that I care or who I am as a person. I hadn’t had that, that quality time with them. So, you know, I just, I don’t know what, and I, frankly, I still think I’m working through it. You know, still manage, but, but also build those relationships at the same time. And that’s, that’s been that’s been a real challenge.

Lauren Palmer  28:10

So how are you addressing that challenge? Like any advice for how you go about building relationships and a new role? 

Nick Edwards  28:19

Yeah, you know, normally, it would be nice to, you know, maybe have that one on one time and do coffee and stuff like that. The weird, the weird part of getting, you know, starting those relationships, but also managing at the same time, was, you know, this whole, this whole idea of being remote and virtual, and so how do I connect with my health director and ask the questions about what he’s doing or stay out of his way or trying to help out when I, when I when I don’t really have a good relationship with him. So, you know, for us, I, we did kind of some extreme measures to do distancing and, you know, obviously, masking and everything we could to meet in person, just for those crucial, those crucial moments. So that that kind of helped me understand what how I needed to plug in with him and where I needed to support him and in other departments, because they were there, they were kind of reacting to this as well. And then the other you know, the other part was trying to start a good relationship with the employee group, you know, not getting a chance to meet them for or the more the frontline employees not getting a chance to meet them for a long time because of, you know, the remote stuff. You know, I tried, I didn’t know what the FFCRA was entailed. But I wanted to kind of demonstrate early on that, you know, I had an interest and care for their well being and who they are. And so one of the first things, it wasn’t a new idea at the time, but one of the first things I did was to create a COVID, emergency leave kind of bank, just an unearned, you know, here’s, here’s, I think it was like 120 hours of leave that you can use for you and your family to whatever COVID related, you know, like, don’t, you need to take care of yourself and your family first, and we’ll deal with the city stuff as we can. So that was something that I that I had seen done in another community, forget where, I’d love to give them credit. But that was that was something that I did, you know, from afar, just to say, Hey, I’m new the organization, but I want you to know that, I’m probably not going to get to see you for a while, and you’re probably not going to hear from me for a while. But I want you to know that I care about you. And we’re, I’m excited to work alongside you and that stuff. And so that was kind of a that was an important thing. You know, other than that, it was still continuing to, you know, do those, do those things that build good relationships and be good with, you know, your communication and follow through and, you know, service to others, you know, just just try to approach a meeting, the meetings like that, I do have to give credit, I’m beyond fortunate to have a great, the are, the city’s interim city manager, Dan Pekarek, was also the health department director. So there, there wasn’t a, there was nobody better to be in, you know, that leadership position and having the, your interim city manager also being the health director, so he had all the institutional knowledge and, you know, knew the political landscape. And so he, I’ve got to give him credit for navigating through the crisis. And I feel like I was along for the ride and just helping him as I could.

Lauren Palmer  32:25

That sounds like a great asset to have on your team. So you talked quite a bit about building relationships with new employees in a time of pandemic. What about that dynamic with your city council? How did you build those relationships?

Nick Edwards  32:41

That was that that was tough. I, I probably didn’t get comfortable, really seeing them, or engaging with them, until probably about month three, or four. So most of my communications with them, or email, you know, in our council meetings were obviously online, so I didn’t get really, I didn’t get much, you know, personal interaction with them. But when we kind of figured out, hey, we can do, there’s things we can do to be safe, you know, I can bring coffee to the office, and we can sit, you know, six feet apart and wear masks that allowed me to kind of have some one on one time with them. And so for the first, oh, gosh, I don’t know. I guess since the summer I’ve kind of had one on one time with each of our nine council members monthly. So that’s been a good way for me to build, build that relationship with Council, understand them, understand their vision for the community and their priorities.

Lauren Palmer  33:58

So what are you looking forward to for your community in 2021?

Nick Edwards  34:03

Sure, I’m, I’m thankful for the work that our councils done to do some strategic planning. I, when a Council asked the question, you know, if you were given the job, what would be one of the first things you do my, my response to them was to do a listening tour. I’d seen a Lee Summit school superintendent kind of do something similar. And so that was, I thought that was really neat, a neat idea. So I communicated to them that I would do a listening tour. So once we were able to kind of do things safely. I started meeting with community, community leaders, had a public survey go out about, you know, what are Joplin’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and so I’ve got Got a phenomenal feedback and about 1400 responses. And, you know, each one of those responses had multiple, multiple thoughts across five different questions. So I’ve got I think I’ve got over 20,000 data points about the, about the community about, you know, where, where Joplin is and where it needs to go. And so I had that information. And in November, I was able to work with shocky Consulting Group to do a, a strategic kind of planning session. And I asked the council to pick some goals, based on the listening tour information, be intentional about it, as a first time manager, asked for that assistance, so that not, so I didn’t end up having to try to do all things for everyone all at once, at the same time, you know, I asked for, for them to kind of set some intentional goals. And so we had a really productive, really productive workshop, the council picked six, which is fine. There’s some that will be easy to do in the short term, and then some that we can move to a long term thing. But from that, I’ve been working with the management team to develop some action plans, how we can address their goals, starting to evolve some community partners. And so with that kind of traditional planning process, I think there’s a strong appetite for some change, which is exciting for me. I think if we’re able to follow through, if we’re able to kind of unite and get out of our corners and come together as a community like we did after the tornado, I think Joplin has a very bright future.

Lauren Palmer  36:58

So you spoke earlier about this divide for lack of a better word between areas of the community that were revitalized after the tornado, and areas of the community that are maybe suffering a little more, tell us about the six goals that were set by your council, do any of those address this division that you spoke about?

Nick Edwards  37:25

Certainly I, you know, just off the top of my head, there’s, we want to change the community’s appearance. There, I don’t know that the Joplin has prioritized having a good community image and what that can do to attract or promote, you know, or encourage investment. And so there’s some, there’s some things that we need to clean up. And so, community appearance. It’s not, we’re not in a unique position in regards to homelessness. There are some concerns that we need to address both from you know, support, you know, making sure that there are the proper entities in the community can support the needs for the homeless community. But then there’s also need for us to, The City of Joplin to take more of a more of a hard line and kind of prioritize kind of protecting property and protecting property value and safety so that that’s a challenge for us. Certainly, it’s not, economic development is a thing for all communities. So you know, we’re, we want to be active in finding new investment and, and that stuff, safety is always a, always a thing in the community. So, you know, are we, do we have the right public safety resources? I think the other is being more resilient, you know, doing things in more of a sustainable way, in more of an efficient way, so that we have that resiliency if, God forbid, there would ever be a tornado again. So those are the big ones. They, they’re, the action plans that we’re coming up with are exciting, you know, to our staff is enjoying the opportunity to engage and have a voice in what the city is planning or thinking about and and how we can address some of these problems.

Lauren Palmer  39:36

Well, Nick, we’re about to wrap up. Before we do that, I want to ask you if you have any advice to share with listeners who may be considering a career change that others would perceive as risky, such as going back to your hometown?

Nick Edwards  39:50

Oh my goodness. Normally I’m a consumer of advice. Not a giver of advice. I don’t I don’t know, Lauren, I don’t, this one struggles. This one I struggle with. I feel fortunate to be surrounded, at least in Lee Summit and here in Joplin too, I feel fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of top notch. You know, just incredible professionals, Conrad lamb or Tom level, you know, just some really great people. And I guess my advice would be, if you’re young or new, or even even more senior in your career, engage in those relationships, because I think there’s so much that we can gain from each other. There’s so much I can learn from you. And, and we can connect and, and, you know, talk shop, I think, you know, I’ll be better for it. So I just, if you don’t have a mentor, if you’re not around other professionals, my advice would be to kind of surround yourself with some of those folks.

Lauren Palmer  41:03

Well, I think that’s a great answer. And I think you gave some inspiring advice earlier when you talked about your perseverance and finding a job in local government in 2010, when it wasn’t the best job market. So I found that inspiring, and I thank you for that little bit of encouragement to persevere. 

Nick Edwards  41:28

Yeah, I hope local government is a is a phenomenal career. And, you know, the opportunity might not be here today. Might not be tomorrow. But if you’re looking to jump into the career, or even make a change, and maybe go from an assistant city manager, I just just keep keep plugging along. It’s it’s, this is rewarding. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Lauren Palmer  41:55

Well, thanks, Nick. It’s very encouraging to see the hometown kid make good and really excited to see where you go with your career and your time in Joplin. And just, in the spirit of full disclosure, Joplin is actually my hometown, too. So it’s a community that I care about a lot. And I’m really proud to see the work that you’re doing there and wish you and your city council all the best as you continue on your strategic plan.

Nick Edwards  42:22

Thanks, Lauren. You know how to get here. So whenever you’re around, let’s meet up for some refreshments.

Lauren Palmer  42:28

Oh, that would be wonderful. So we have one last question for you. As we close out, if you could be the Gov Love DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

Nick Edwards  42:40

You know, like, I’m not the most creative type. It’s been kind of playing around. In is kind of in my head, but it’s the Bill Withers, I think Lovely Day song.

Lauren Palmer  42:55

Oh, that’s a great song. 

Nick Edwards  42:56

Yeah. The, you know, the Gov Love, Lovely Day. There’s a connection there. We try to make days lovely in local government. So. 

Lauren Palmer  43:06

Okay, uplifting, we’ll see what we can do with that. So thank you so much, Nick. That ends our episode for today. We really appreciate your time. Thanks for talking with me. Gov Love is brought to you by ELGL, The Engaging Local Government Leaders Network, you can reach us at ELGL.org/GovLovePodcast or on Twitter at @GovLovePodcast. Subscribe to Gov Love on your favorite podcast app. And if you’re already a subscriber, tell a friend or colleague about this podcast. help us spread the word that Gov Love is the go to place for local government stories. Thanks for listening. This has been Gov Love, a podcast about local government.

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