Today, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation declaring the week of April 22nd-26th as Community Development Week in the state of Nebraska.

“Community Development Week is an opportunity to celebrate the hard work by people across our state to create a great quality of life in their communities and grow Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts.  “It’s also a week when we acknowledge the federal, state and local resources, as well as the partnerships and local support, that make community and economic development achievements possible.  Thank you to everyone on the team who is helping make our state the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.”

Community Development Week (CD Week) is celebrated across the nation each year to acknowledge the impacts of community-building programs such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships Fund (HOME).  These and other resources help communities carry out meaningful projects that enhance citizens’ quality of life.  CD Week also acknowledges the partnerships and local engagement that make community development projects possible.

Nebraska takes part in the CD Week celebration each year with statewide events and festivities.

Following this morning’s proclamation signing, Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Dave Rippe presented the Governor’s Showcase Community Award to the city of Central City.  The Showcase Award honors a Nebraska CDBG non-entitlement community for outstanding achievements in community and economic development over the past five years.  Central City was recognized for an array of achievements spanning local business development, youth and education, solar energy, and other projects that have enhanced local well-being.

Officials from the entitlement cities of Bellevue, Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha went on to present awards on behalf of their respective communities.

Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike presented the Community Development Award to the Bellevue Junior Sports Association (BSJA) for its Participation Assistance Program.  BSJA was founded with a focus on children and sports, and works to address the unmet needs of children through volunteer support, fundraising, and a youth-oriented community center.  Funded in part by CDBG, the Participation Assistance Program provides scholarships for low-income families to help offset the costs of youth sports participation.  The program has assisted at least 35 families to date.

Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele then presented the Community Development Award to the Multicultural Coalition (MC), a nonprofit that provides support for immigrant and refugee populations in the Grand Island area.  A CDBG award to MC supported the organization’s move to a larger location, and enabled new program activities that led to its being recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2018.  MC estimates that over 400 clients have benefitted from support facilitated by its CDBG grant.

On behalf of the City of Lincoln, Urban Development Director David Landis presented the Community Development Award to SSH Architecture for its development of the SSH Architecture Building in the Havelock Business District.  The project saw SSH transform a vacant parcel in an older neighborhood into a modern mixed-use commercial and residential building.  The 10,800 square foot property is now home to SSH, plus nearly 4,000 feet of additional commercial space and eight upper-level residential apartments.  The new structure fulfills an area need for additional housing and commercial space while adding curb appeal in the Havelock Business District.

Finally, Omaha Planning Department Assistant Director William Lukash, on behalf of the City of Omaha, recognized local contractor and community advocate Thomas “Tom” Lamb.  Lamb began his construction company, Lamb’s Remodeling, in Omaha in 1975.  The same year, he began working with the city to rehabilitate homes through its CDBG-funded programs.  Later, Tom began rehabilitating homes for local nonprofits.  To date, his efforts have helped to provide safe, decent, affordable housing for thousands of Omaha residents by way of over 800 housing rehabilitation projects.

The awards presented today represent just a few of the countless projects that have, over the past five years, benefitted communities and residents across the state.

“The partnerships and achievements we celebrate today reflect the determination that we, as Nebraskans, should strive for as we work to better our communities and create opportunities for our people,” said DED Director Dave Rippe.  “Our congratulations and appreciation go out to each of today’s award recipients—as well as to all of the talented, passionate people who work so hard each day to grow our state.”