Unique incentives programs, community collaboration and locally led partnerships with the State of Nebraska have elevated development efforts in the city of Sidney (pop. 6,409). This week, the Department of Economic Development (DED) honored the City for continued success in Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin recognized local leaders during Sidney’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 25th.
Sidney is one of 40 communities to earn EDCC certification in the program, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. State officials established the EDCC program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and expand existing businesses. Qualifying communities must demonstrate well-defined programs that encourage a supportive environment for economic growth. Successful EDCC’s consistently promote available sites and buildings, create local development incentives and implement strategic planning. The City of Sidney earned EDCC program certification in 2008 and was recertified in 2012 and 2018.
Over the past five years, local leaders assisted in the creation of 15 new Sidney businesses through various forms of financial assistance, including the City’s LB840 program. Nebraska’s Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB840), adopted in 1991, allows communities—upon voter approval—to utilize a portion of local tax dollars for community development. Sidney’s LB840 program has generated 377 jobs since 2018.
Sidney’s Signage and Façade Enhancement program allows for aesthetic improvements to downtown brick-and-mortar businesses, and has provided $134,654 in assistance over the past several years. The city invested $66,145 to assist 24 new businesses through its Rental Assistance program, which encourages economic growth within the community’s expanded Historic Downtown District. The program provides $500 per month in assistance, for up to six months, to business owners who choose downtown rental space for their storefronts. The Nebraska Arts Council recently designated Sidney as a Creative District, which supports cultural and innovative development in designated areas. Sidney is one of nine communities to be designated as a Creative District in the new program.
“As Sidney’s business community diversifies, we continue to look for creative ways to offer homegrown entrepreneurs an opportunity to put down roots in western Nebraska,” said City Manager David Scott. “In addition to supporting the city’s industrial and manufacturing industries through LB840, our rental assistance program encourages investments for our retail and hospitality sectors.”
Local and state partnerships have fostered consistent growth within Sidney’s manufacturing industry. Nebraska’s Site and Building Development (SBDF) program allows for property purchases, construction and renovations for new and expanding businesses. Sidney’s LB840 program and SBDF have invested in several companies over the past five years, including the relocation of animal feed manufacturer Vitalix and New Freedom Yurt Structures’ expansion project.
“The City of Sidney appreciates the opportunity to build relationships with business owners and economic developers across Nebraska,” said Mayor Brad Sherman. “As our community continues to learn about developmental resources, various programs have solidified the importance of private investments, city incentives and state and federal programming as project investors.”
Sidney is one of just eight Nebraska communities to qualify for design grant funding through the Safe Streets and Roads for All program. The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was passed in 2021 and allows funding for redesigned roads and updated sidewalks and crosswalks. The program designated $300,000 for improvements in Sidney. Nebraska’s eight designated communities are among 445 national program recipients.
Scott pointed to the importance of local, state and federal partnerships for developmental success in Sidney and Cheyenne County.
“The EDCC program sets a precedent for growth within our communities through a variety of resources, which has sparked excitement about future developmental opportunities in Sidney,” Scott said. “We are excited to continue establishing these great connections with investors and developers to ensure Sidney remains in a position to grow for many years.”
For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/programs/community/edcc/.