Photo (left to right): DED/Governor’s Office Consultant Brittany Hardin, Councilman Jarod Hahn, Economic Development Director Shaunna Mashek, Councilwoman Lynda Johnson, Mayor Steve Brott, Councilman Dan Riley, City Clerk/Administrator Ashlea Bauer.


Chappell recognized as a Leadership Certified Community by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

New downtown sidewalks, landscaping and lighting in the city of Chappell (pop. 867) have expanded economic opportunities in the heart of the community. This week, the Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the City’s recertification in Nebraska’s Leadership Certified Community (LCC) program. DED Western Nebraska Business Development Consultant and Gov. Pete Ricketts’ West Central Director, Brittany Hardin, honored local leaders during a special presentation on Monday.

Chappell is one of 31 Nebraska communities to qualify for DED’s LCC program, created in 2011 to help villages and municipalities adapt to ongoing changes and opportunities in economic development. Certified communities must demonstrate an understanding for and preparedness in strategic planning, and display readiness in technological development to help new and existing businesses grow. Qualifying LCCs earn status in the program for five years and are required to maintain community websites to market local development, which may include information on available sites and buildings and regional employment opportunities. The City earned certification as one of western Nebraska’s first LCCs in September 2016. DED recertified Chappell as a member of the program in October 2021.

Over the past five years, City leaders have prioritized efforts to upgrade infrastructure along Chappell’s Main Street. Chappell’s first and former Economic Development Director, Britt Miller, and current Director, Shaunna Mashek, spearheaded collaborative work to complete the project through local and State investments. Project contributors included Chappell’s Thomas Buckley Trust and Virginia Smith Charitable Trust, the Deuel County Tourism and Visitor’s Committee and Chappell’s Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB840) fund. Nebraska’s voter approved LB840 communities designate tax revenue for economic development efforts.

State project assistance included a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant for Downtown Revitalization administered by DED, and $161,000 from the Nebraska Department of Transportation. Chappell utilized the funding to eliminate downtown safety hazards, including unused coal chutes and uneven sidewalks, and to incorporate ADA-accessible ramps. Street widening and resurfacing were completed at Chappell’s viaduct and Main Street intersection. The project was completed in December 2020.

“Leaders within Nebraska’s LCCs are known for innovative work in economic development, and they value opportunities to create local, regional and State partnerships to grow their communities,” said LCC Program Director Kelly Gewecke. “Chappell’s successful downtown revitalization project is a great example of those efforts, which also encouraged new and existing businesses to invest on Main Street.”

Several new businesses have moved to the downtown area since the project’s completion, including Buffalo Creek Coffee, a Hixon Ag seed dealership, Vintage Barn Door Blooms floral and gift shop and BigIron Auctions. Chappell Economic Development Director Shaunna Mashek said a combination of new businesses and more foot traffic has created new excitement about the downtown area from both residents and visitors.

“Chappell’s downtown revitalization project has created a safe environment for pedestrians and shoppers, and business owners appreciate the chance to showcase their storefronts on newly developed property,” Mashek said. “The project’s domino effect inspired economic planning in additional areas of the community, which is creating opportunities for continued growth.”

Mashek recently led efforts to create a new downtown gathering space. Chappell’s Downtown Plaza includes an amphitheater, covered seating, parking, greenery and a mural of some of the community’s most well-known residents. The project was funded through local and regional investments and DED’s Civic and Community Center Financing Fund.

Assistance from grants and community volunteers led to the completion of a new pool park playground last spring. An additional project included installation of new LED lighting at the community’s baseball field, which was completed in September.

“We are grateful that Chappell continues to thrive as a diverse business community with great recreational opportunities,” Mashek said. “Our business owners and community supporters are second to none in rural Nebraska, and we are thrilled for the continued opportunity to grow as an LCC.”

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