April 17, 2017 (LINCOLN, NEB.)— Starting in 1974, the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program has provided communities across the state of Nebraska and the country with the necessary resources to address development challenges. Throughout the week of April 17 – April 22, communities all over the country will celebrate the accomplishments they have achieved which helped them prosper and grow.
Monday at the State Capitol, Nebraska celebrated Community Development Week where Gov. Pete Ricketts, officials from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), and entitlement communities (Bellevue, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha) representatives met to recognize the efforts made in Nebraska.
Governor Ricketts began the ceremony by proclaiming the week of April 17 – 22 as Community Development Week in Nebraska.
The Governor then shared how the success of the CDBG program has helped the state over the past five years. This included over 250 projects completed and $78 million in CDBG funds invested in Nebraska. The funds were awarded to 117 communities and three counties.
DED administers CDBG funding for all communities outside the entitlement communities of Bellevue, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha.
Courtney Dentlinger, Director of Nebraska Department of Economic Development, recognized the City of Hastings (pop. 25,093) with the Governor’s Showcase Community Award. This award recognizes outstanding efforts by communities over the past five years who have demonstrated the ability to identify community development goals; combine local, state, and federal resources to achieve those goals; and successfully execute projects having a positive impact on the community.
Through strong collaborations, Hastings’ community organizations, leaders, businesses, and residents are reviving the downtown and the city overall with building renovations, façade improvements, housing rehabilitation, and loans to local businesses to open or expand.
The Lark, a premier arts and cultural center, renovated their historic building, providing an event space for concerts, classes, theater productions, comedy shows and film screenings. The renovation of The Lark has brought a new sense of culture to Hastings. The center has superior acoustics and a contemporary design. The overall presence has had a positive effect on the community.
Funding was also provided for the mixed-use redevelopments of Uptown Experience, luxury-style furnished apartments made available for short- or long-term occupancy and for Block 27 Lofts, apartments for young professionals. The ground-level retail space houses The Odyssey restaurant and microbrewery Steeple Brewing.
In addition, the ongoing Pioneer Spirit Trail provides an intermodal pedestrian transportation network between major recreational centers such as, Lake Hastings, Hastings College, and the downtown business district to provide much needed pedestrian, bike, and exercise routes.
Nebraska has four entitlement communities. These communities are Bellevue, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha. Each entitlement community attended Monday’s ceremony to recognize completed projects in their communities.
Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders was at the ceremony to recognize Sarpy County Museum for their project of providing safe access to the newly acquired Union Pacific Caboose. This project has allowed visitors a safe pathway to the caboose to learn about history.
Grand Island became an entitlement community in 2016. Mayor Jeremy Jensen recognized Habitat for Humanity with their first ever “Community Impact Award.” Habitat for Humanity has consistently provided affordable quality housing for the residents of Grand Island. This collaboration between Grand Island and Habitat for Humanity has demonstrated the strong commitment to constantly improve the community.
David Landis, the Director of the Urban Development Department for the City of Lincoln, recognized Hartley Flats, a new 13-unit housing development. Kris and Julie Sonderup, developers of Hartley Flats, have helped the neighborhood, which was struggling with aging housing, by promoting positive growth for the residents and businesses. The new housing has created a place where young professionals can feel at home, and have quick access to the entire city.
The City Planner for Omaha, Norita Matt, recognized the Fair Deal Village Marketplace and Neighborhoods, USA (NUSA). The Fair Deal Village Marketplace, located in the historic North 24th and Lake Street, has created a place where the neighborhood can access valuable amenities. NUSA has provided educational and networking opportunities for diverse people and organizations. Residents are able to share their ideas, values, and experiences, which in turn has helped build a stronger community. NUSA hosts workshops and conferences to discuss current issues and offers assistance to those reaching out.