Nebraska Department of Economic Development Business Development Consultant Deb Eggleston with Seward Mayor Joshua Eickmeier
City recognized as a continued member of NE’s Economic Development Certified Community program
Ongoing developments in technology, job retention and business growth have earned the city of Seward (pop. 7,288) continued recognition as one of Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Communities (EDCC). This week, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the city’s recertification in the program for the second time in five years. DED Business Development Consultant Deb Eggleston honored the community during Seward’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 1.
Seward is one of 39 communities to earn EDCC certification in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for their preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. Seward earned original EDCC certification in 2013, and earned recertification in April, 2018.
Over the past five years, the city has grown through 29 business recruitment and expansion projects through the utilization of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and the city’s LB840 fund. Overall, projects completed since 2013 have created or retained 224 jobs in the community, including a recent $1 million investment from agriculture manufacturer PolyTech, LLC. The company’s expansion project in Seward resulted in the addition of 14 new full-time employees.
“Readiness in economic development is paramount when considering whether a company will choose to expand in your community,” said Jonathan Jank, president and CEO of the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership. “The EDCC recertification process has encouraged the City of Seward to be further along the preparedness path to support existing business expansions, startup activities and the recruitment of new projects. We appreciate the Nebraska Diplomats for recognizing our recent economic development efforts, and look forward to continuing to grow Nebraska.”
Expansion and renovation projects within Seward’s health and childcare service sectors reiterate the community’s commitment to economic growth. A $9 million, 15,000+ square-foot expansion of Memorial Health Care System’s outpatient services facility added a physicians’ specialty clinic and aquatic physical therapy services. In addition, St. John Lutheran Church and School completed construction on a new Child Development Center (CDC) near the church’s campus. The $3.2 million dollar project further enhances the CDC’s outreach in the community, which serves nearly 140 children through ages six months to 13 years.
“Essential services, such as diversified health options and exceptional childcare, complement growing communities like Seward,” Nebraska Diplomats President Jane McDaniel said. “Support for these recent projects garnered an investment of more than $12 million dollars, serving as benchmarks of a community willing to enhance their residents’ overall quality of life. By doing so, Seward leaders recognize that these services often play a role in economic development by retaining young families in the workforce.”
Great Plains Communications recently installed a fiber optic network in downtown Seward to build technology infrastructure throughout the community’s business district. In addition, DED awarded $350,000 to the City of Seward to assist in the overall revitalization of its historic downtown. The funds will support existing building and business owners with renovation efforts through the establishment of a Commercial Rehabilitation Program.
Seward leaders have grown substantial housing opportunities in an effort to sustain the area’s workforce. Since 2013, the community has built 128 new homes.
“The City of Seward continues to prove its willingness to invest in it the community, its people and businesses,” DED Director Dave Rippe said. “Having strong leadership with shared vision and goals serves as a common denominator among EDCC communities.”
Various cultural developments within the city have also come to fruition since Seward’s original EDCC certification. The Seward Memorial Library completed a $1 million privately-funded basement renovation for a new resource and reading room at the facility. The Nebraska National Guard Museum recently moved to Seward, made possible by a $2.1 million federal grant for renovations and landscaping at the former armory building. In addition, the city completed construction of the Kiwanis Parade of Flags near the east entrance of the community. The exhibit includes 50 state flags, flags for all branches of the U.S. military and the Flag of the U.S.
“In Seward, economic development is community development,” said Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier. “As a community, we strive to support existing businesses and industries so they can grow and expand while we attract and welcome new investors to the Seward community. I’m very excited about Seward’s future and its continued growth and economic opportunities.”
Contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/economic-development-certified-community-edcc/ for information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program.