From left to right: Jonathan Jank, President & CEO of Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership; Josh Eickmeier, Mayor of Seward; Dave Honz, Southeast Nebraska Business Development Consultant for DED.

State of Nebraska honors Seward for continued success in Economic Development Certified Community program

Locally led partnerships between the City of Seward (pop. 7,643) and the State of Nebraska are creating opportunities for new housing and downtown development. This week, the Department of Economic Development (DED) recognized the City for its recertification in the Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. DED’s Southeast Nebraska Business Development Consultant Dave Honz honored Seward leaders during a special presentation on Tuesday, May 21st.

Seward is one of 41 communities involved in the statewide program, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. Nebraska leaders established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for efforts to attract new industries and expand existing businesses. Leaders in qualifying communities must work with established businesses to implement strategic planning and create a welcoming environment for new development.

Communities may earn program recertification every five years through business recruitment and expansion efforts and by actively marketing available sites and buildings. Seward attained EDCC status in 2013 and program recertification in 2018. City leaders collaborated with the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership (SCCDP) to earn the community’s most recent EDCC recertification.

“Seward is proud to be recertified and has worked hard over the past five years to do so,” said Jonathan Jank, President & CEO for the Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership. “We could not have done it without all of our long-standing and new business partners choosing to continually invest and grow their companies locally.”

In April 2024, Gov. Jim Pillen honored the City of Seward as Nebraska’s Showcase Community for ongoing efforts to foster economic growth. Over the past five years, Seward leaders have followed the City’s comprehensive plan to initiate housing, downtown and recreational development projects. SCCDP’s partnership between City and statewide investors helped obtain funding from Nebraska’s Rural Workforce Housing Fund (RWHF) in 2021. By 2022, SCCDP utilized program funding for four housing projects to create $15.7 million in estimated investments. In 2023, the development organization received an additional $765,000 from the RWHF to continue development for affordable housing.

Seward received assistance from the federally funded and DED-administered Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program for Downtown Revitalization. The $435,000 grant helped the community address slum and blight conditions within the historic downtown district. The funds supported façade improvements for downtown businesses and repairs related to code, infrastructure, and ADA accessibility.

Community leaders have also prioritized projects to encourage healthy lifestyles among its residents. In 2020, Memorial Health Care Systems started construction on a building expansion project. In 2023, the City broke ground on a new wellness center. When completed, the center will feature a competition-size swimming pool, studio space for aerobics classes, and a room for afterschool care. Amenities will also include basketball and volleyball courts and a three-lane track.

DED invested $5 million in the wellness center through Nebraska’s Shovel-Ready Capital Recovery and Investment Act. The program encourages public and private investments and assists qualified nonprofit organizations with projects that will create an overall positive impact in the State of Nebraska. Additionally, DED announced an award of $562,000 for Seward’s wellness center in April 2024 through the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund.

Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier said support for development within the community’s business, housing, and healthcare sectors has created an ideal environment for economic growth.

“The City Council and my Administration have worked together with community partners to bring forth smart economic growth, which matches the ideals of the City of Seward as a great place to work, live and play,” Mayor Eickmeier said.

Seward leaders’ ongoing focus on industrial growth has resulted in the successful recruitment of several businesses to the Seward/Lincoln Regional Rail Campus. The Rail Campus recently welcomed WCR Incorporated, an industry leader in heat exchanger parts and service. In addition, Black Hills Energy opened its first Nebraska-based liquid natural gas supplemental station at the Rail Campus in 2023.

Petsource by Scoular invested more than $50 million to build a freeze-dried pet food manufacturing plant at the Rail Campus in 2020, which included assistance from DED’s Site and Building Development Fund (SBDF). In February 2024, Petsource announced completion of a $75 million expansion to its facility which now employs over 150 people.

For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or, or visit