from left, City Clerk Donna Rust, Councilmen Keith Crofutt and George Klein, DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin, NNDC Director Deb Cottier; back row, Public Works Director Milo Rust, City Manager Greg Yanker and Councilman Mark Werner.
For the second time in five years, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Department of Economic Development (DED) have recognized the City of Chadron (pop. 5,725) for earning certification as an Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC). This afternoon, DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin honored local economic leaders during the Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation’s (NNDC) annual meeting.
Chadron is one of 39 communities to earn EDCC certification in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by the DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. The community earned original certification in December 2012 and earned recertification in December 2017.
As part of the certification process, a qualifying community must identify a well-defined program that actively engages with its existing business community and offers a supportive environment for welcoming new economic development projects. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, local financing and incentive programs and a strategic plan for economic development, such as implementing a progressive strategy to grow the community’s labor market.
Since 2013, NNDC has been directly involved in assisting, recruiting or expanding more than 30 different projects in the Chadron community. As the designated development agency for the city, NNDC spearheaded efforts by local railroad NNW in recruiting a car repair company to Chadron.
“Visionary leadership to recruit businesses that compliment northwest Nebraska’s successful industries has been a key in this community’s economic growth,” Nebraska Diplomats President Jane McDaniel said. “The Nebraska Diplomats are proud to recognize Chadron as a success story for economic development within the EDCC program.”
Continuous, extensive collaboration between the City of Chadron and NNDC have resulted in the use of active Revolving Loan Funds for each entity. Over the past five years, the city’s fund completed four loans to assist three local businesses. The city’s most recent economic development project, which utilized Chadron’s LB840 and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds, resulted in the completion of a $7.3 million project for the planning and construction of a 60-room Holiday Inn Express. The hotel opened in May 2017 and created 30 full-time positions in the community.
Since 2012, NNDC’s Revolving Loan Fund has created or retained 43 full-time employees through 11 loans totaling $343,000. Organizational leaders capitalized on funding assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development (RD) program and Dawes County’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) re-use funds.
“The talented and focused leadership in communities like Chadron are what drive local economic success,” said DED Director Dave Rippe. “Issues such as workforce retention and skills development are the core of Chadron’s economic development efforts and run parallel to our work to provide young Nebraskans with the necessary tools and incentives to build their careers here.”
In addition to recent developments near Chadron’s newest hotel, the city loaned an additional $250,000 from the community’s LB840 fund and CDBG Revolving Loan Fund to assist in a $1.4 million dollar project. Construction of a Domino’s Pizza began in August 2017 and opened for business last month. With another retail business to open soon, the project will create two additional businesses and more than 20 new full-time positions. Chadron re-authorized its LB840 program in 2015 for 15 years.
“Chadron has seen unprecedented growth and investment in our community,” said Chadron Mayor John Coates. “The 140+ jobs created or retained, along with the $75 million invested the past five years, shows that Chadron is serious about preparing for new businesses.”
In 2015, city voters approved an additional one-half cent sales tax to fund a $4 million renovation of Chadron’s existing swimming pool to create the Chadron Aquatics Center. The project resulted in a unique partnership between Chadron Community Hospital and Chadron State College to provide staffing resources in order to operate year round.
Community leaders have been recognized for several Nebraska awards, such as the State Hospital Association’s ‘Most Wired’ award for Chadron Community Hospital for telemedicine efforts. Chadron City Schools Superintendent Dr. Caroline Winchester was named Nebraska Superintendent of the Year in 2017. NNDC Executive Director Deb Cottier was honored as the Nebraska Economic Developers Association’s (NEDA) Professional of the Year in 2017 for her continued commitment to economic growth.
“The City of Chadron and Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation are proud to receive the Nebraska Diplomats recertification announcement,” Cottier said. “We have spent much of the past five years recruiting, growing and expanding businesses in our community. These efforts gave our city the capacity and vision to take business retention and expansion to the next level. Thank you to the Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Public Power District and Black Hills Energy’s Economic Development Division for their assistance in this process. We are looking forward to continued growth in the future.”
Contact Lynn Kohout at 402-440-2599, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/economic-development-certified-community-edcc/ for information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program.