Department of Economic Development announces Kimball as Nebraska’s 29th Leadership Certified Community
Local leaders’ evolving commitment to innovative business incentive programs, façade improvements and workforce development has received recognition from the State of Nebraska. Yesterday, the Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the City of Kimball (pop. 2,360) as the newest member of Nebraska’s Leadership Certified Community program (LCC). DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin honored City officials during a special presentation at Kimball’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, August 18.
Kimball is one of 29 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 LCC’s 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. This is the City of Kimball’s first certification in Nebraska’s LCC program.
Over the past year, the City has invested nearly $1 million in its business incentives programs, led by former Kimball Economic Development Director Amy Sapp. Kimball’s Local Option Municipal Development Act (LB840) authorizes incorporated cities and villages to collect and appropriate local tax dollars for economic development. The funds recently assisted in the development of Kimball’s Sagebrush Event Center, created through local leaders’ extensive efforts to provide a dining and entertainment space in the community. The building’s restaurant, lounge and 400-person conference area will open in September 2020. The owners of another new business, High Point R-V Park, utilized LB840 assistance to create spots for 15 camper hookups.
The City’s paid Internship Program exposes area high school and college students to local job opportunities, which includes payment of grant funds once an internship is completed. The program encourages the development of business relationships between Kimball’s employers and potential permanent employees.
“Ongoing investments in Kimball’s businesses have not only proved our commitment to façade and structural transformations, local incentive programs also show that this community is dedicated to the true development of our businesses and talented people,” Sapp said. “Throughout our LCC application process, we’ve learned how to prioritize workforce recruitment and retention, and we are proud to be part of this distinguished Nebraska program.”
The City of Kimball’s Infrastructure Improvement Grant Program provides up to $15,000 in assistance for local business owners who invest in ADA compliance, energy efficiency, electrical or plumbing updates, or building code improvements. In addition, the community’s Façade Improvement Grant Program encourages upgrades to the exterior appearance of buildings located within the City of Kimball. The City’s Property Improvement Grant Program provides financial assistance for businesses or organizations working on the demolition, construction or renovation of commercial and residential properties. Owners of the newly renovated Kimball Bakery and Merrycakes utilized the Façade and Infrastructure grant programs, and the business was featured as a 2020 stop on the Nebraska Tourism Commission’s Nebraska Passport Program.
A local contractor, Hays Roofing and Siding, is currently renovating the Longhorn Building, which served as a long-term downtown business in the early 1900’s. Once completed, the building will house a fitness center, nutrition bar and several upper-level, upscale apartment units.
As business development, façade and infrastructure improvement projects evolve, local leaders have found innovative ways to market Kimball as a business and family-friendly community. Economic Development Coordinator Elyse Schlake recently created a “Kimball High Point of Nebraska Guidebook,” sponsored by local businesses, to highlight area attractions.
“I am excited about our businesses’ ongoing efforts to utilize local grant programs,” Schlake said. “By taking advantage of these grants, area developers and employers will have a continued opportunity to modernize their facilities to improve Kimball.”
Mayor Keith Prunty said a years-long commitment among City leaders led to Kimball’s new status as an LCC.
“The City of Kimball appreciates the hard work from our Economic Development Department in their efforts to become a Leadership Certified Community in Nebraska,” said Prunty. “This certification will benefit the City as another tool to modernize and redevelop various areas within our community.”
For additional information about the Leadership Certified Community (LCC) Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-627-3151, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/leadership-certified-community/.