City honored as a DED Leadership Certified Community
DECEMBER 20, 2016 (LINCOLN, NEB.)— The Department of Economic Development (DED) has named Fort Calhoun (pop.913) as the agency’s 17th Leadership Certified Community in the state of Nebraska. DED Business Development Consultant, Lynn Kohout, honored city council members and community leaders during a special presentation on Monday, December 19th.
DED’s Leadership Certified Community (LCC) Program was created in 2011 to help Nebraska communities adapt to ongoing changes and opportunities in economic development. Qualifying communities must demonstrate an understanding for and preparedness in strategic and community planning, as well as display readiness in technological development to help new and existing businesses grow. Certified communities earn designation in the program for five years and are required to update and maintain community information and websites.
“We are proud to be recognized in Fort Calhoun for our focus on economic development and tourism,” said Mayor Mitch Robinson. “Becoming an LCC will enable us to move forward with opportunities for new growth.”
Over the past 11 months, collective efforts between community leaders and city officials to position Fort Calhoun for economic development have progressed significantly. In January, city council members hired a community coordinator to implement ideas generated by business leaders, the city and school district, and tourism proponents in Fort Calhoun’s 2015 strategic plan.
Uniting leadership sectors within the community propelled residents to find additional ways to grow population and infrastructure. In November 2016, voters passed Fort Calhoun’s first city sales and use tax, which will increase the community’s sales tax by 1.5 percent. Nearly 10 percent of generated revenue will be set aside for annual road and street projects. The fund will also assist in projects limited to those solely designated for community and economic development such as recreation and tourism.
Voters also had a hand in the community’s surge in student enrollment following a 2013 decision to pass a $12.93 million school bond. Population growth within the Fort Calhoun School District has continued on the heels of renovation and expansion efforts at the high school; currently, 30 percent of the district’s students are generated from option enrollment.
Throughout the LCC certification process, Fort Calhoun officials also relied on experience and guidance from their development partners, including the Omaha Public Power District and Washington County’s Gateway Development Corporation. Lisa Scheve serves as Gateway’s executive director.
“In today’s competitive economic market, it’s vital for our communities to demonstrate proactive leadership, open doors to new opportunities, and grow partnerships,” Scheve said. “By doing so, cities in Nebraska can remain viable and become sustainable.”
Mayor Robinson said the certification has sparked new momentum for economic development in Fort Calhoun.
“As a Leadership Certified Community, Fort Calhoun is better prepared to qualify for a broader range of programs and assistance from the state,” Robinson said. “This is one step in building a solid framework for the future of this great city.”
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