DED Recognizes Hastings as an Economic Development Certified Community
This week, members of the Nebraska Diplomats and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) recognized the City of Hastings (pop. 24,991) as an Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC). DED Director Dave Rippe and Business Development Consultant Kelly Gewecke honored members of the Hastings Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) during the Hastings City Council meeting on Monday, July 8.
Hastings is one of 40 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. Hastings received its original EDCC certification in August 2008, and earned program recertification in September 2013 and May 2019.
Over the past five years, HEDC leaders have prioritized efforts to build new opportunities within the Hastings workforce. A 2016 talent initiative is connecting business leaders to area high school and college students in order to attract, retain and develop youth for careers in the community’s top industries. Success within the initiative led to the creation of Inspired by Hastings (inspiredbyhastings.com), designed to foster employer-student relationships and encourage community involvement.
Inspired by Hastings also establishes support for the city’s growing entrepreneurial network. Hastings has welcomed a number of startup businesses over the past several years, including Pacha Soap, First Street Brewing Co. and Drake Tool and Design. The group consistently hosts events to provide guidance and support to new entrepreneurs from experienced startup business creators.
“HEDC’s ongoing mission to cultivate quality businesses and talented people sends a message to potential residents, entrepreneurs and companies looking for a new place to land: this progressive and welcoming business community is actively preparing for opportunities to grow,” DED Director Rippe said. “Partnerships between leaders in new and existing businesses and area schools are an important part of Hastings’ success, and have helped establish its continued recognition within the EDCC program.”
Two years ago, HEDC purchased nearly 100 acres of local land for commercial and housing development. This mixed-use property, now called the North Park Commons, supported new opportunities for State funding. In 2018, Hastings was one of 14 communities to receive assistance from Nebraska’s Rural Workforce Housing Fund (LB 518), which provided support for the construction, now in progress, of an 84-unit apartment complex and 30-unit townhome development. In the nearby vicinity, the City has invested in the construction of a Hampton Inn Hotel. Meanwhile, downtown Hastings is home to 120 new housing units.
“Hastings’ downtown, upper-story living opportunities connect young professionals, families and business owners to the heart of our community,” said HEDC’s Director of Talent Solutions, Maggie Vaughan. “Creating a walkable business and living district, with the help of local investors and business owners, promotes progress and vitality in our city. These new developments also provide direct access to a growing number of retail stores, breweries and restaurants that support our unique Nebraska community.”
Hastings has three industrial parks at full capacity that have attracted new companies, including the beef sales business Flanders Provision. The parks have also provided support for existing business expansion projects. HEDC is currently developing eight new lots in the city’s Industrial Park North area.
“The City of Hastings’ growing number of downtown business, housing and industrial projects exemplify what it means to have long-term success within Nebraska’s economic development community,” said Nebraska Diplomats President Dan Duncan. “HEDC’s continued success is the result of years of leadership and creativity in Hastings, and has earned continued recognition as a leader within the EDCC program.”
For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-665-0919 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/economic-development-certified-community-edcc/.