From left to right: Major General Craig Strong, Adjutant General of the Nebraska National Guard; Josh Eickmeier, Mayor of Seward; Governor Jim Pillen; Jonathan Jank, President & CEO of Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership.

This morning, Governor Jim Pillen visited Seward to present local leaders with the Governor’s 2024 Showcase Community Award. Each year, the award is presented to one Nebraska community that has distinguished itself through achievements to enhance the quality of life and encourage economic growth.

“Seward has shown tremendous initiative to tackle community development projects that are improving the quality of life for residents,” said Gov. Pillen. “Seward already has an outstanding reputation as a wonderful place to live. Enhancements like the new wellness center have made the city even more enticing for families and companies looking for a place to call home.”

At today’s ceremony, the Governor also proclaimed April as “Community Development Month” in Nebraska. The designation recognizes the valuable contribution of state and federal grant programs to the growth of communities across Nebraska. The Department of Economic Development (DED) administers a variety of programs in Nebraska to support community infrastructure improvements, public works projects, and the revitalization of business districts.

“Seward is developing affordable homes, constructing a state-of-the-art wellness center, and growing its rail campus,” said DED Director K.C. Belitz. “It’s impressive to see all the community has accomplished. Congratulations to Seward on being named Nebraska’s Showcase Community for 2024!”

Over the past five years, Seward has undertaken several significant projects to fulfill the vision for growth outlined in the city’s 2019 comprehensive plan.

  • In 2020, Memorial Health Care Systems started construction on a building expansion to create a third level to its facility.
  • In 2021, Seward received a $435,000 grant from DED to address slum and blight conditions within the historic downtown district. The funds have support commercial façade improvements and repairs related to code, infrastructure, and ADA accessibility.
  • In 2022, Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership (SCCDP) invested Rural Workforce Housing Funds into four housing projects totaling $15.7 million of estimated investments. In 2023, SCCDP won another Rural Workforce Housing Fund award from DED to continue its development of affordable housing.
  • In October 2023, Seward broke ground on a new wellness center. Among other features, the center will have a competition-size swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, a three-lane track, studio space for aerobics classes, and room for afterschool care. DED invested $5 million of shovel-ready project funds to support construction of the wellness center.

“What makes Seward such a great community are the great people and their sense of patriotism and volunteerism,” said City of Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier. “People want to live here, businesses want to invest and grow here, and visitors want to experience the Fourth of July in Seward, Nebraska’s official Fourth of July City.”

Along with its accomplishments in community development, Seward has successfully attracted business to the Seward/Lincoln Regional Rail Campus. In 2020, PetSource by Scoular invested over $50 million to build a freeze-dried pet food manufacturing plant at the Rail Campus—a project DED supported with Site and Building Development Funds. In February 2024, Scoular announced completion of a $75 million expansion to the facility. WCR Incorporated, an industry leader in heat exchanger parts and service, fully opened a new location at the Rail Park in 2023. Additionally, Black Hills Energy located their first ever Nebraska-based liquid natural gas supplemental station at the Rail Campus last year.

“It is an exciting time to be living, working, and playing in Seward, Nebraska with our continual growth across the community,” said Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership President & CEO Jonathan Jank. “We welcome new residents and visitors to come experience what makes Seward such a special place.”

DED has a dedicated Community Development (CD) team to support Nebraska’s communities as they prepare for growth. The CD team connects Nebraska’s communities to grants in support of:

  • Infrastructure improvements, such as sewer and water system upgrades or street repairs
  • Housing studies and housing development
  • Construction of public works facilities like fire stations, daycare centers, senior centers, recreational centers, libraries, and parks
  • Business district revitalization
  • Disaster recovery

More information about DED’s community development programs is available online at