City recognized as a member of NE’s Economic Development Certified Community program
For the third time in 10 years, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Department of Economic Development (DED) have recognized Falls City, Neb. (pop. 4,214) as an Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC). DED Business Development Consultant Deb Eggleston honored members of Falls City’s Economic Development and Growth Enterprise (EDGE) board during the organization’s monthly meeting on Thursday, June 20.
Falls City is one of 40 communities to earn EDCC certification in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. The community received its original EDCC certification in 2009 and earned recertification in 2014 and 2019.
The EDGE team’s focus on workforce development has grown significantly since 2014. EDGE’s partnership with Southeast Community College (SCC) resulted in the recruitment and location of a new SCC Learning Center in 2016. A current, industry-specific construction project will provide additional tools for skills training in healthcare and manufacturing. EDGE and SCC partners anticipate completion of the new 10,000 square foot facility in late 2019 or early 2020.
As workforce opportunities at the collegiate level continue to grow, EDGE officials have also prioritized partnerships between industry leaders and Richardson County schools. Falls City EDGE actively works to establish relationships with manufacturing businesses through participation in National and Nebraska Manufacturing Day. The community’s Educator Externship Program features intensive job shadowing and hands-on learning opportunities for area teachers. The program encourages the promotion of Falls City’s manufacturing industry by providing educators with industry knowledge to share with high school students.
“As workforce needs across Nebraska rise, businesses and schools continue to create unique programs to introduce students to outstanding careers in our state,” said Nebraska Diplomats President Dan Duncan. “Threefold partnerships between local industry leaders, teachers and students promote ongoing opportunities within Falls City’s workforce. Efforts like these are essential to this community’s economic readiness encouraged by Nebraska’s EDCC program.”
“Local industries are happy to invite area youth into their companies, because one day, they will be part of this community’s workforce,” said FAST Global Solutions Plant Manager Jerry Koopman. “It’s so important to support area students while giving them an inside look at what is available for their growth, right here in their own backyard.”
Recent business expansions also support opportunities for growth in the community’s workforce. The completion of Kearney Welding’s 6,000 square foot manufacturing facility included the addition of five new employees. The company’s $300,000 investment included new equipment for regional outsourcing services in welding and fabrication. In addition, Falls City Foods’ site selection process led them to invest $3 million in the community, resulting in a new facility that now employs 19 people.
Armbruster Motor Company’s recent expansion included updates to the business’ auto body retail, maintenance and repair shop. The project is Falls City’s fourth Tax Increment Financing (TIF) project, which included assistance for site preparation, paving and utility upgrades.
EDGE’s recent option to purchase a 1,000-acre, Union Pacific Railroad (UPPR) served speculative megasite was approved by UPPR in January. Falls City’s work at the site with UPPR included the creation of a specific rail design concept.
“The Falls City EDGE team is made up of dedicated stakeholders who work very hard to foster growth and development in Falls City and Richardson County,” said EDGE Executive Director Beckie Cromer. “We’ve created an environment conducive to economic development, and we are proud of these successes and being recognized as a part of the Economic Development Certified Community program. The EDGE program touches all aspects of community development, including business retention and expansion, workforce development, housing, company recruitment and community relations. We are #fallscityproud!”
For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-665-0919 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/economic-development-certified-community-edcc/.