Councilman Rick Valentine, Mayor Greg Schmall, Councilman Nathan Edmunds, City Clerk Sam Jackson, Councilman Michael Harimon, Councilman Marty Marquez, Councilman Scot Ouderkirk, Councilwoman Janice Newhoff, DED Business Dev. Consultant Brittany Hardin and Outgoing Mayor Michelle Coolidge.

The City of Bayard’s economic partnerships and efforts in business retention have earned recognition from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). This week, the agency announced the City of Bayard (pop. 1,140) as Nebraska’s newest Leadership Certified Community (LCC). DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin honored local leaders during Bayard’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, January 8.

Bayard is Nebraska’s 25th community to qualify for DED’s LCC program, created in 2011 to help 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.

City leaders’ efforts to build relationships with area business owners were at the forefront of Bayard’s LCC recognition. In 2018, officials completed nearly 20 Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) surveys in the community, which provide insight about local infrastructure and workforce needs. Bayard officials also developed strategies to grow the community’s online presence to market available sites and buildings, as well as a nationally-known nearby tourist attraction, Chimney Rock.

“These efforts, led by outgoing Mayor Michelle Coolidge, were really part of a bigger vision to raise awareness about our attractions, businesses and quality of life in Bayard,” said Bayard City Clerk Sam Jackson. “Our team appreciates her dedication to our community and our overall efforts to grow. We are proud of our community and her continued leadership.”

“This certification is the culmination of work by not only city staff, but several committees made up of members of our community,” Mayor Coolidge said. “This speaks to the level of commitment of those citizens to their town and their neighborhoods. These community supporters spent many hours in planning meetings and input sessions to identify and verbalize their priorities. Beyond the planning, becoming an LCC is the result of action and implementation by those individuals in moving Bayard forward. I’m excited to be able to acknowledge them in this way.”

Over the past several years, Bayard leaders created a comprehensive plan to further develop businesses, as well as to grow and retain its population. The community worked closely with the regionally-based Western Nebraska Economic Development (WNED) group to develop strategies to create new opportunities for growth. Successful efforts to address local nuisance and abated properties are also underway, opening the door for additional efforts to enhance the community’s quality of life.

“WNED is proud of the City of Bayard for the persistence and progress shown by its team to earn LCC recognition,” said City of Gering Mayor and WNED member Tony Kauffman. “As a newly appointed LCC, additional support from the State of Nebraska will also be an important factor to retain and expand Bayard’s businesses.”

“Collaboration among supporters of our rural communities plays an important role in local economic development,” LCC Program Director Kelly Gewecke said. “The City of Bayard’s relationships with Main Street businesses and regional economic leaders are examples of growth and progress throughout western Nebraska.”

For additional information about the Leadership Certified Community (LCC) program, contact Kelly Gewecke at or 308-627-3151, or visit