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Eleven Nebraska communities make Top 50 list for raising kids for less (November 30, 2007)

Looking for a great, cost effective community in which to raise your family? To no surprise, Nebraska has nearly a dozen of Business Week’s just announced Top 50 communities in which to raise kids for less – more than any other state.

These communities feature the right combination of safety, community values, and top notch education—qualities high on most parents’ lists. The magazine worked with real estate researcher OnBoard, based in New York City, to compile data related to five criteria they believe every parent should consider when deciding where to live: test scores, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, number of schools, and crime risk.

The cost of living criteria stacked communities’ household costs against the national average in terms of what families pays for mortgage, rent, insurance, repairs, maintenance, apparel, education, food and beverages, health, furniture and transportation.

For education, OnBoard counted the number of available public and private schools in the area and compared those schools’ reading and math test scores with each state’s average.

To gauge crime risks, OnBoard weighed each community’s risks of rape, murder, assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, and vehicle theft against the national average risks. 

Nebraska communities and their rankings include:

  • No. 5—Arapahoe (pop. 1,028)
  • No. 6—Waverly (pop. 2,448)
  • No. 17—Lawrence (pop. 312)
  • No. 22—Bartlett (pop. 128)
  • No. 32—Petersburg (pop. 374)
  • No. 36—Newcastle (pop. 299)
  • No. 37—Diller (pop. 287)
  • No. 38—Oakland (pop. 1,367)
  • No. 39—Loomis (pop. 397)
  • No. 41—Arlington (pop. 1,197)
  • No. 44—Davenport (pop. 339)

To read the special report in its entirety, go to: http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/nov2007/pi20071115_554425.htm?chan=search


Sidney earns Economic Development Certification (November 30, 2007)

LINCOLN, NEB. (November 30, 2007)—Sidney, Neb. (pop. 5,900-plus) is the latest community to achieve the Economic Development (ED) Certification designation.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats, the program is one of very few nationwide that recognize communities for being prepared for economic development. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development administers the application process.

“The Nebraska Diplomats are pleased to announce Sidney as its newest Development Certified Community”, said Tim White, President of the Nebraska Diplomats.  Sidney is the 16th community in the State to make a commitment to Economic Development excellence and the extensive planning required to receive the certification.”

The Nebraska Panhandle community has aggressively planned and pursued economic development projects during the past 20 years, effectively tripling its economy and gaining national recognition for having more jobs than people to fill those jobs.

“We have great collaboration and partnerships built between the city, county, Sidney Chamber of Commerce and private sector employers,” said Gary Person, Sidney city manager. “The certification process has definitely helped us take our planning a step further and we appreciate the efforts of all of our team players in bringing about this accomplishment.”

National Economist and Author Jack Schultz named Sidney to his list of America’s Top 100 Rural Economic Development Communities under 50,000 Population. Sidney also remains the only Nebraska community to have successfully voted three times to adopt economic development programs and public funding through LB 840 in three consecutive decades: 1988, 1997, and 2007.

“We appreciate the Department of Economic Development and The Nebraska Diplomats partnering together on this worthwhile process,” Person said. “We are committed to our continued progress and this will help us get there.”

Other Nebraska ED Certified Communities are Auburn, Cozad, Fremont, Geneva, Gothenburg, Grand Island, Holdrege, Lexington, Nebraska City, Norfolk, North Platte, Ogallala, Ord, Scottsbluff and South Sioux City.

Linda Black at 308-995-8742, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2007 community improvement awards presented (November 5, 2007)

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, NEB. (November 2, 2007)—More than 200 community volunteers and leaders attended the 44th Annual Nebraska Community Improvement Program (NCIP) awards banquet in South Sioux City.  Communities were praised for good work in promoting and encouraging economic and community development. The event capped the 2007 NCIP Annual Conference where community volunteers learned about how to further develop community projects in their respective towns and cities.

"The Nebraska Community Improvement Program demonstrates the valuable investment being made by individuals and organizations across our state. I applaud the commitment of all those being recognized this year for their success in strengthening their communities," said Gov. Dave Heineman, who attended the event.

NCIP awards are given for overall community and economic development excellence and outstanding projects. In 2007, more than 200 completed projects and programs were submitted for award recognition, and volunteers contributed more than 300,000 hours of in-kind services toward these projects. Volunteer service, when multiplied by an average $11 per hour wage, totals more than $3 million of investment in Nebraska.

NCIP, a program of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development is sponsored by the following investor-owned utilities: Northern Natural Gas, Glenwood Telephone, Great Plains Communications, Inc., SourceGas., Northwestern Public Service, and Aquila. These sponsors help support the program year-round and provided plaques and cash prizes for the following 2007 NCIP award winners:

Bassett claimed the Otto Hoiberg top award for the second year in a row.  Judges were again impressed with the tenacity and determination of Bassett volunteers and leaders of all ages.  The community continues to renovate the historic Bassett Lodge, while other projects, such as the community garden, were designed to increase youth leadership opportunities.  The award was named for Dr. Otto G. Hoiberg who dedicated himself to community and economic development during his tenure at the University of Nebraska. One NCIP community, regardless of population size, receives the Hoiberg Award for best overall community development process.

The Founders Award, which recognizes an outstanding intergovernmental project in Nebraska, went to Wahoo’s and Colon’s Water Project.  The communities were honored for their collaboration in supplying the area with clean drinking water. The award honors the late David Osterhout and David Carson who founded the Nebraska Community Improvement Program in 1963.

The Marilyn Ristine Leadership Award went to Dorothy Symonsbergen from Nebraska City.  Described as the community’s number one fan, Symonsbergen has spearheaded NCIP efforts in Nebraska City since 1974, while serving in a number of other capacities at the community and state level.  The award, named in memory of Marilyn Ristine (1928-1992), an outstanding community leader in Gothenburg, was created in 1993 to recognize a long-time, community volunteer who exhibited exemplary leadership qualities.

New in 2007 is the Workforce Development Star Award, which went to a community or region that demonstrated creativity and determination in recruiting and retaining a workforce.  Dawson County engaged numerous entities in its plan to retain and attract residents.  The Gothenburg Public School offers opportunities for youth to learn about all that the area has to offer and encourages them to return to the area following college.  Also, various job sectors are highlighted to emphasize job opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked.  Housing, mentorships, and educational components all play a role in Dawson County’s efforts. 

The Good Neighbor Award was presented to the West Point and Beemer Future Farmers of America (FFA), as nominated by Scribner. West Point and Beemer FFA members have donated supplies, time and talents to many Scribner fundraising efforts in an effort to build a new sports complex. The Youth Leadership for Outstanding Community Service Award recognizes outstanding youth who develop and lead projects and peers for the betterment of their communities. Following are this year’s youth leader awardees in their respective NCIP population categories:

Class II (Pop: 701-2,000) — Lane Carr, Ainsworth.  Lane’s assistance with the Country Music Festival, as well as his roles in nearly every school activity have helped him set the bar high for Ainsworth youth who aspire to be outstanding volunteers.

Class III (Pop: 2,001-5,000) —Bergan Carr, O’Neill.  Bergan served as president of the student-led and driven Youth Task Force and is a graduate of the Holt County Leadership Institute.  Her ability to excite and bring people together to work toward a common goal is an example of maturity way beyond her age. 

Class IV (Pop: 5,001-8,000) — Madison Ferris, Nebraska City.  Madison, a senior at Nebraska City High School, has made a lasting impression on individuals of all ages.  He helped initiate legislation and swayed people’s opinions about underage drinking and adults contributing to minors.  Madison testified before the Nebraska State Legislature in support of LB336, which increases the punishment for adult offenders who contribute alcohol to minors. 

Class V (Pop: 8,001 or more) — Sara Watson, Alliance.  Sara has chaired the Adopt-a-Grandparent and Mission Store community service projects.  She also helped create and distribute a student survey about the Alliance Police Department’s role in the community.  Through her many activities, Sara has demonstrated true leader qualities.

Class VI (Multi-Communities) — Roger Cattle, Seward County.  Roger is a two-time student council president and is involved in a plethora of community and school activities including Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), speech, one-act plays, band, quiz bowl, bowling, and choir. He also has donated his time to the Veterans of Foreign War local chapter, Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Plenty, Seward Library and many other community groups.

Community Development Awards, given for overall excellence in community and economic development, were presented as follows:

Class I: (Pop. 1-700)—Bassett (652). Outstanding projects completed by Bassett this year included the continued renovation of the Historic Bassett Lodge, the community welcome receptions, and growing youth leadership and business opportunities through the creation of a youth garden.  Second place went to Farnam. Third place was awarded Alexandria.

Class II: (Pop. 701-2,000)—Laurel (986). Laurel leaders worked with several key partners to attract a new business to the community, and build a new pool after raising nearly $500,000 through various creative fundraising efforts.  Laurel’s efforts did not stop there – the addition of a recycling center is projected to save the community $40,000 in sanitation expenses.  Second place was awarded to Loup City and third was a tie between Ravenna and Ainsworth.

Class III: (Pop. 2,001-5,000)—Gothenburg (3,681). A long-time NCIP participant, Gothenburg understands the importance of community planning and volunteer recognition.  The community worked together to raise funds for a $303 million expansion to the senior center, and completion of a new 20-year comprehensive plan.  Wahoo received second place and third place went to Kimball.  Honorable mention was given to Aurora.

Class IV: (Pop: 5,001-8,000)—Nebraska City (7,228).  Collaborations both internally and externally have allowed many amazing projects to take place in Nebraska City.  The Historical Preservation Society of Nebraska City Volunteer Fire Department worked with other entities to build a $600,000 museum to showcase the equipment and memorabilia associated with the oldest fire department in Nebraska.  The community also is working to establish a Southeast Nebraska “Move Home” campaign, and Inventor and Entrepreneurs Club.  Second place went to Seward. Third place was awarded to Sidney.

Class V: (Pop: 8,001 and over)—South Sioux City (11,925).  South Sioux City’s new virtual building tool allows prospective businesses to view 3-dimensional images of what a building could look like and guarantees that it will be erected and ready within 90 days.  The community’s library also spearheaded a literacy campaign the featured many events for young and old alike. Second place was awarded to Alliance and third place went to Columbus.

Class VI: (Multi-Community)—Pawnee County.  Proving how important economic development is to the region, the Pawnee County Economic Development Corporation was reinstated.  Judges also were impressed with the county’s willingness to take risks and think creatively.  Seward County received second place.
This year’s 2007 NCIP Special Award Recipients are:
Volunteer and Leadership Development
Class I: Alexandria – Annual Meal and Melodrama
Class II: Loup City – U.S.O. Dance & Canteen
Class III: Aurora – Leadership Academy for Juniors
Class IV: Sidney – Cub Scout Pack 90
Class V: Beatrice – Leadership Beatrice
Class VI: Custer Country – World War II Hero Flight

Youth Involvement and Leadership Development
Class I: Farnam – YCIP Recycling
Class II: Ainsworth – Youth Group Helps Hurricane Victims
Class III: Gothenburg – Gothenburg FFA “Growing Entrepreneurs”
Class IV: Nebraska City – Youth and Adults in Action (YAA)
Class V: Scottsbluff – Teen Advisory Council
Business Assistance & Development
Class I: Petersburg – Grocery Store Saved
Class II: Hartington – Education and Passing of LB840
Class III: Aurora – Aurora Technology Center (ATC)
Class V: Columbus – Drive for Five
Class VI: Holt County – Holt County 2010 Initiative
Tourism Promotion & Development
Class I: Pilger – 5th Annual Sweet Corn & Hamburger Feed
Class II: Ainsworth – National Day of the Cowboy
Class III: Gothenburg – “Cindermates”
Class IV: Nebraska City – 20th Jaycee’s Independence Day Celebration
Class V: Alliance – Carhenge Visitor’s Center
Class VI: Garfield & Valley County – ESCAPE to Calamus and Scenic Loup River Valley
Public Works, Facilities, Services, and Planning
Class II: Burwell – Comprehensive Planning
Class III: Wahoo – New Saunders Medical Center
Class VI: Pawnee County – DuBois Post Office
Environmental Projects & Awareness
Class I: Farnam – Lions Metal Recycling
Class II: Deshler – Clean Sweep of Deshler
Class IV: Sidney – Keep Sidney Beautiful: Great Trash Race
Parks, Recreation & Forestry
Class II: Laurel – Laurel Municipal Pool Facility
Class III: David City – Handicapped Accessible Fishing Pier
Class V: Alliance – North Central Park Improvements
Arts & Humanities
Class I: Alexandria – Historic School Gets Facelift
Class II: Ainsworth – Enriching Our Lives through the Arts
Class III: Cozad – 2007 Year of the Windmill
Class IV: Nebraska City – Museum of Firefighting and Educational Center
Class V: Columbus – Columbus Sesquicentennial
Class VI: Dawson County – Historical Society and Museum: Building for the Future
Community Services
Class I: Bassett – Magic of Christmas
Class II: Blue Hill – Blue Hill Fitness Center, Inc.
Class III: O’Neill – Orthopedic Physician Recruitment
Class V: Grand Island – Family Day in the Park
Class VI: (tie) Dawson County – Dawson County Edge Coalition, and
            Gering/Scottsbluff – Pharmaceutical Take-Back Event 
For more information, or to obtain a complete script from the awards ceremony, contact: Lindsay Papenhausen toll-free at 800-426-6505, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Hastings, Wayne get financial assist for new spec buildings (November 14, 2007)

LINCOLN, NEB. (November 14, 2007)—The cities of Hastings and Wayne have each received $255,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to construct speculative buildings that attract new or expanding companies. The projects will create 23 full-time jobs—13 in Hastings and 10 in Wayne for low-to-moderate-income wage earners.

The city of Hastings will apply its $250,000 award toward construction of a 97,500-sq.-ft. building in North Industrial Park. Located on six acres, the shell building will feature 26-ft. side walls, and provide for a 25-ft. bay capacity and 60-ft. column spacing. It will be designed to specifically attract warehouses, machining, plastic extrusion or metal fabrication businesses, which dovetail with Hastings’ existing industries. The remaining $5,000 will be available to the city for administrative costs. The Hastings Economic Development Corporation will match the CDBG funding, bringing the total project to $1,234,795.

During the past 30 years, the Hastings Speculative Building Program in the Hastings Industrial Parks have accounted for the attraction or expansion of seven industries, creating more than 750 new manufacturing jobs and capital investments totaling over $100 million according to Dee Haussler, HEDC executive director.

The city of Wayne will use its $250,000 award to build a 20,000-sq.-ft. metal shell speculative building on 6.57 acres in Kardell Industrial Park. Wayne Area Economic Development, Inc. will market the facility to light manufacturers that specifically manufacture products used by the ethanol industry. Wayne is strategically located near a number of ethanol facilities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.  The remaining $5,000 also will go to the city for administrative costs involved with the project. The city, Wayne Industries, and Wayne Area Economic Development will provide $399,100 matching funds bringing the total project to $654,100.

Federal funds are made available to Nebraska from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The in-state portion of the CDBG program is administered by DED.


Hastings project— Stew Jobes at 308-385-6355, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wayne project—Sheryl Hiatt at 402-589-0027 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Nebraska Department of Economic Development | Courtney Dentlinger, Department Director
301 Centennial Mall South | P.O. Box 94666 | Lincoln, NE 68509-4666
Phone (800) 426-6505 | Fax (402) 471-3778