Pictured: A view from inside the newly-renovated Fremont City Auditorium.
Since 2004, Nebraska’s Civic and Community Center Financing Fund (CCCFF) has been offering grants to help municipalities invest in themselves and create a better quality of life.
“Every community is a little different, but they all have goals they are striving to achieve,” said Anthony L. Goins, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, which administers the CCCFF program on behalf of the State. “CCCFF allows us to make it easier for communities to pursue and complete those projects that ultimately help them grow and thrive.”
In Fremont, a CCCFF grant of $1.25 million recently helped locals tackle a project that will serve and help grow the community for decades to come.
Built in 1937, Fremont’s City Auditorium has hosted events ranging from high school dances and graduations to pancake feeds and polka parties. But until recently, the aging building had seen better days, and was in need of major repairs and upgrades. Now, thanks to dedicated citizens and support from a 2019 CCCFF construction grant, the Auditorium’s recent renovation — which celebrated its official grand re-opening this week — has restored the historic local icon to its former glory and beyond.
Grant Coordinator Lottie Mitchell has been involved in some of Fremont’s most impactful economic development projects in recent years, and says the auditorium renovation was the result of a community coming together to address a local need and priority.
“Economic development is so important to Fremont to continue our growth,” Mitchell said. “We really want to invest in our infrastructure and promote our community, so that businesses want to come here and those that are already here want to grow here. There was a lot of support for this project, because it’s something there’s really a demand for.”
In a show of support, voters turned out to pass a $2 million bond issue, with City Council funding and the CCCFF program rounding out the financial picture.
“Without CCCFF, we probably wouldn’t have been able to make all the improvements that we did,” Mitchell said, referring to a new heating and air system, roof, ADA accessible restrooms and entryways/exits, spacious meeting spaces, community event rooms and other significant upgrades and new features. Meanwhile, contractors were careful to maintain and enhance the Registered Historic Building’s original look and feel.
“These upgrades open up entirely new possibilities for events like large weddings and corporate events. So this facility not only serves our residents, but will be a resource to help us draw people into Fremont and show them our community,” Mitchell said.
As the speeches were given, gatherers reveled in what felt like a monumental achievement that took not just a few, but an entire city to bring to fruition. Yet at the end of the day, each held their hat, or a place in their heart, for the woman who they knew brought it all to life.
“We owe this to Kim,” Mitchell said, referring to Kim Koski, Fremont’s since-departed Director of Parks and Recreation, who was the project’s biggest leader and champion. “This was her baby. I know she would be basking in this with us today.”
For more information about the CCCFF program, including how to apply as a municipality, visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/civic-and-community-center-financing-fund-cccff/ or contact program coordinator Jenny B. Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org.