Laurel, Neb. (pop. 964), has earned its recertification in the Nebraska Economic Development Certified Community Program. The city was originally certified in April 2010 and recertified this past July.
The program is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED). Designation as a Nebraska Economic Development Certified Community indicates that Laurel is prepared for business growth and ready to meet the needs of companies seeking new business and industrial locations.
“The resolve and determination of Laurel and the economic growth and development it has accomplished is most impressive especially when factoring in its size,” said Nebraska Diplomats President Annette Wiles. “It’s clear we could all learn a lot from Laurel.”
During the past five years the City and Laurel Economic Development have been the recipient of several grants awarded through DED, including a 2011 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the Public Works category to complete Phase I construction of Industrial Road in the Laurel Industrial Park; a 2011 CDBG Phase I Downtown Revitalization Grant for planning; and a 2011 CDBG Phase II Downtown Revitalization Grant of $350,000 to make business façade and structural improvements. Seventeen business and property owners used the program and leveraged an additional $250,000.
Laurel BioComposite, LLC, broke ground during spring 2012 for a production facility in Laurel Industrial Park. The company, which develops new bio-based plastic replacement products derived from distillers’ grain, opened its doors in fall 2013.
Agrex Inc., received financial assistance to build a $25 million shuttle-loader grain elevator with an 11,000-ft. rail loop connected to the short line branch of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. The company, located within the Laurel corporate limits, used tax increment financing. Ground was broken on the project in June 2013 and the new elevator opened October 1, 2014.
Financial assistance also was provided to a local investment group and Faith Regional Physicians Services of Norfolk, Neb., to build a new outpatient medical clinic in downtown Laurel. The clinic supports the practice of two doctors, one, former Laurel resident who returned home to practice medicine. A groundbreaking for the project took place in May 2014 and the clinic opened in January 2015.
“We are very excited and proud as we look back at the economic development that has taken place during the last five years. In addition to the larger projects like Agrex and Laurel BioComposite, we have had a new medical clinic built downtown, several ownership changes that have kept businesses in town, entrepreneurs who have begun new projects to add to or expand services in Laurel, and multiple businesses updating their exteriors through the downtown revitalization program,” said Laurel Mayor Mark Patefield. “The emphasis on development and the future of Laurel have helped attract a new doctor, lawyer, dentist, pharmacist and chiropractor in that time period. It has been great to see all the activity, and to know that Laurel will continue to be a vibrant community well into the future.”
“I am so pleased for the City of Laurel that we continue to be a certified community for economic development and thank everyone who helped in the recertification process,” said Keith Knudsen, President and CEO, Security Bank. “Great things are happening with both existing and new businesses in Laurel and this recertification will only help ensure that the momentum continues.”
Additional accomplishments during the past five years include:
“The City of Laurel should be commended for its recent recertification award through DED. The community is diligent about its strategic planning process and collaboration with various economic development partners,” said Mary Plettner, CEcD, Senior Economic Development Consultant at Nebraska Public Power District. “It is my absolute pleasure to work with city staff and community leaders toward achieving their economic development goals.”
“Congratulations to Laurel on another job well done,” said Dan Leise, General Manager at Cedar-Knox Public Power District. “The commitment to economic development continues to pay dividends for this progressive community.”
DED Director of Business Development Dan Curran and DED Business Development Field Service Manager Sheryl Hiatt attended the August 10 city council meeting to recognize the efforts of the City.
Contact Lynn Kohout at 402-440-2599, or firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit http://staging.neded.org/economic-development-certified-community for additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program.