Generating the support and funding to bring a community betterment project to fruition isn’t easy — splash pads included. But if anybody knows how it’s done, it’s Allen Grell.
Born and raised in Beatrice, Grell — retired after 32 years in the Army National Guard — has spent most of his life working as a public servant in one capacity or another. He’s sat on the city council. He served as Gage County Board Supervisor. He co-founded Beatrice’s Habitat for Humanity. He’s an active member of the local Sertoma Club. He was even the mayor from 1980-84.
“My family has always been active in trying to make Beatrice a better place to live,” Grell said. “I was raised with the understanding that if you’re going to be part of the community, you have to serve the community as well.”
Recently, Grell and his fellow Sertoma Club members raised over $80,000 in donations to help the City build a splash pad at Astro Park (since renamed “Sertoma Astro Park”). It’s become a wildly popular spot where the young and old alike flock on sizzling summer days to cool off free of charge.
“The splash pad project was a great way for Sertoma Club to give back to Beatrice, and to increase our visibility so we can keep generating support and making an impact in the community,” he said.
Grell is eager to highlight the State tax credit program that made the splash pad — like so many other projects in Beatrice and throughout the state — possible.
“Whatever size the project, you usually have to have other partners making contributions,” he said. “Sometimes success boils down to how well you can sell people on making a donation or investment. In my mind, the ability to encourage people to contribute is what makes CDAA such an awesome program that every community needs to know about.”
Grell is referring to the Community Development Assistance Act (CDAA) program, which can provide 40% State tax credits to people and groups who make a cash donation or provide services and materials in support of an approved community betterment project.
“CDAA tax credits make it easier for those who want to contribute to do so,” Grell said. “Bear in mind that whatever contribution the donors make, there is also a very good chance it will be deductible from their federal taxes. So it makes a very appealing argument for giving back to the community without being overburdened.”
Administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), CDAA is all about helping communities tackle local objectives, especially those that provide essential services to people of low and moderate income. For example, Grell says Beatrice’s Habitat for Humanity has frequently harnessed the program to recruit contractors to build homes for Habitat Partners — qualifying families who’ve approached the nonprofit in need of a better place to live.
“Right now we’re utilizing CDAA to help finance and construct a home for a young family whose daughter is in a wheelchair and lacks the accessibility she needs in their current residence,” he said. “It goes to show there are many ways the program can help communities or organizations make an impact.”
He says CDAA can be the difference-maker between completed projects and those that never get off the ground.
“I think it’s vital to raise awareness about the program because of what it can do. While I wish CDAA had unlimited funding, I hope the credits allocated by the State are fully expended year after year,” he said. “I encourage any person or group whose goal is to serve the community to reach out to DED, their local government or a participating nonprofit to find out if credits are available.”
For more information about CDAA, visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/community-development-assistance-act/ or contact the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. An informational brochure is available for download at https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/NeComm-DevAssActNCDAA.pdf.