The Department of Economic Development (DED) has recognized Chappell, Neb. (pop. 918) as a Leadership Certified Community in the state of Nebraska. Chappell is the state’s 2nd community in western Nebraska to earn certification designation. DED Business Development Consultant, Starr Lehl, honored community leaders during a special presentation at Chappell’s City Council meeting on Monday, October 17th.
Chappell is the 16th Nebraska community to qualify for DED’s Leadership Certified Community Program (LCC), created in 2011 to help smaller Nebraska communities adapt to ongoing changes and opportunities in economic development. Qualifying communities must demonstrate an understanding for and preparedness in strategic and community planning, as well as display readiness in technological development to help new and existing businesses grow. Certified communities earn designation in the program for five years and are required to update and maintain information and websites.
“It’s exciting when a community accomplishes a major step toward economic development, especially in a city the size of Chappell,” said Chappell Mayor Steve Brott. ”This leadership certification puts us one step closer to being on the map and qualifying for help from the state to help build our town. We thank local and state officials for their commitment, time and work to help our community become LCC-certified. This goes to show that Chappell and its great people will not give up.”
Over the past year, the community has streamlined its focus on economic development through the creation of a Community and Economic Committee. In March, the committee hired Community Development Leader, Britt Miller, who has been instrumental in Chappell’s LCC-certification process. Over the past several months, Miller has spearheaded several public meetings to involve city officials, business owners and residents in the community’s strategic plan for future economic development. She has also played a key role in efforts to educate voters about Chappell’s LB840 economic development initiative, which will be included on the city’s November ballot.
This spring, Miller and DED staff completed 19 business retention and expansion visits in Chappell. The process provided both local and state leaders with an opportunity to gage economic priorities within Chappell’s business community.
Starr Lehl represents DED within a 15-county region in Nebraska’s panhandle. “Two LCC certifications in as many months in this part of our state are a testament to the great leadership and economic ingenuity within our western Nebraska communities,” Lehl said. “It really is a privilege to help connect rural economic developers to potential state resources, which will ultimately help Grow Nebraska.”
Completed projects to market tourism opportunities in Chappell include the installation of new welcome banners and downtown lights, “Welcome to Chappell” signs at each of the community’s three entrances, and a recent Lincoln Highway Marker dedication in Chappell’s Liberty Park. Continuing business façade projects are also underway, as are efforts to gain support for a downtown revitalization project to rebuild handicapped-accessible sidewalks and implement a community center. Local leaders are currently working with a fiber optic provider to install high-speed internet in the community. Shareholders continue to envision long-term economic development efforts as well, such as building an incubator for start-up or home-based businesses and the construction of a new hotel.
The Chappell Chamber of Commerce appreciates the potential for ongoing economic opportunities, made possible by the community’s LCC-certification. “This is another step in our efforts to bring growth to Chappell,” said Chamber President Dale Fornander. “We will continue to work together to promote and support our current businesses and seek new opportunities, and we look forward to building an even stronger relationship with the state of Nebraska.”
For information about the Leadership Certified Community Program,
contact Kelly Gewecke at firstname.lastname@example.org , 308-627-3151, or visit