Cambridge earns Leadership Certification

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Cambridge earns Leadership Certification

Cambridge, Neb. (pop.1,063) has earned designation in the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Certified Leadership Community Program. It is the fifth community to earn certification, joining Tecumseh, Madison, Central City and Neligh.

“If not for the foresight, drive, and determination of the Cambridge Economic Development Board to work towards being a Certified Leadership community, receiving this certification would not have been possible,” said Cambridge Mayor Mark Harpst. “The leaders who are the members of this board are continuing the progressive trends of the forefathers of Cambridge.  They are willing to do what it takes to keep Cambridge the ‘Can Do’ community that it is.”

“‘Life is Good’ in Cambridge, Nebraska, and we are thrilled to be recognized for our efforts to ensure that we have a positive rural future,” said Ashley Rice-Gerlach, executive director of Cambridge Economic Development. “There is this misconception that rural Nebraska communities are dying, which couldn’t be further from the truth here. Cambridge is alive and well; ready and willing to tackle any issues that may arise. The community is willing to this because it wants to ensure that our younger residents have a place they can call “home” now or in the future—a place in which they are excited to live, work and play.”

Cambridge has amassed an impressive list of achievements:

  • Ten new businesses have opened since 2010.
  • A new 77-acre Harvest Meadows Subdivision is home to two new businesses and six new homes (two under contract).
  • To date, 17 businesses have been awarded $60,440 from the Façade Grant Program, which has helped create improvements valued over $147,906
  • A Down Payment Assistance Program has made seven low-interest loans totaling $121,800 to individuals and families to purchase or build homes in Cambridge.
  • The community’s Economic Development program oversees a Revolving Loan Fund to encourage business development. Currently, $62,968.59 in low-interest loans have been made to seven local businesses.
  • Economic Development also operates an Internship Program, offering $1,000 grants to local businesses as an incentive to hire interns. To date, eight businesses have taken advantage of the program.
  • The first College & Career Fair was hosted by Cambridge Economic Development in October 2014. The event featured 20 businesses and colleges and attracted 140 students from four area high schools.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development created the program in 2011 with the purpose of helping smaller Nebraska communities deal head-on with challenges and change. Communities must demonstrate having a solid planning and implementation process in place. Communities also must actively take advantage of technology, or be willing to learn to meet program objectives.

Applicant communities are evaluated in:

  • Community involvement
  • Strategic planning
  • Community planning and zoning
  • Business and technology development
  • Incentives and implementation

For information about Cambridge’s ongoing efforts, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-607-3711.

For information about the Certified Leadership Development Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at , 308-6273151, or visit

For information about this article, contact Kate Ellingson at 800-426-6505, 402-471-3749 or