Today, Lt. Governor Mike Foley recognized the city of Lexington (Pop.10,192) for recertification in the State of Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. Lt. Gov. Foley and Business Development Consultants Ashley Rice-Gerlach and Brittany Hardin with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) honored the community during a special luncheon on Thursday, May 26.
Lexington is one of 38 communities to earn certification in the program, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. As part of the certification process, a qualifying community must identify a well-defined program that actively engages the existing business community and offers a supportive environment for welcoming new economic development projects. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, local financing and incentive programs, and a strategic plan for economic development, such as implementing a progressive strategy to grow the community’s labor market.
“Gaining EDCC certification indicates that Lexington continues to move in a positive direction, and the community is poised to achieve current and long-term development goals,” said Lexington City Manager Joe Pepplitsch. “As we continue to build on our past successes and invest in our future, our message is clear: Lexington is full of opportunity, is development-friendly, and is able to deliver resources that progress requires.”
Lexington earned original certification in 2007 and was recertified in 2011.
The community earned its most recent recertification in March 2016 upon the completion of several economic growth efforts, including the addition of more than 24 jobs in a newly developed $2.5 million strip mall, and a new 21,000- square- foot facility that is home to VOLVO Trucks of Omaha’s new Lexington location. A $1.6 million investment by MRK Truck Wash to relocate its facility within Lexington’s city limits grew the company’s employee base to 28 jobs.
Recent expansion efforts at several businesses include a $11 million investment in Orthman Manufacturing’s new Lexington location, a $47 million warehouse expansion at Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., and Lexington Regional Health Center’s $25 million expansion project. The updated hospital resulted in a new senior housing development near the facility implemented by the city of Lexington.
“I attribute Lexington’s ability to further develop successful businesses to the community’s progressive leadership,” said Lt. Gov. Foley. “Capitalizing on development opportunities through the creation of cohesive projects, such as the addition of new housing near the hospital’s expansion, highlights the city’s efforts to improve area services and quality of life. These are often cornerstones of EDCC communities across Nebraska.”
Local leaders’ efforts to draw on resources from the state of Nebraska secured funding from two DED grants in 2015. Dawson Area Development received financing from the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust for a regional Purchase Rehab Resale program, and the city of Lexington earned Community Development Block Grant funding for Owner Occupied Rehab. The city, in partnership with the county, also completed an area-wide housing study in 2015 with assistance from Nebraska Investment Finance Authority Housing Grant Funding, which resulted in several projects planned for the future.
“Participation in Nebraska’s EDCC program provides an opportunity for Lexington to serve as an example community for Nebraska cities facing similar challenges, such as a need for additional housing,” said Nebraska Diplomats President Dean Hart. “Through preparation, innovation and teamwork, Lexington continues to create solutions to ensure the community’s growth and success.” Lexington Mayor John Fagot appreciates city-wide efforts for future economic development.
“The EDCC recertification process reaffirms that Lexington is a prime place for economic development through the city’s efforts to acquire land for residential, commercial and industrial projects. By locating industrial sites in a new market tax credit area, our community has added to our ability to recruit new investment,” Mayor Fagot said. “The community, as a whole, also supports the future of Lexington, as evidenced by their charitable donations of over $14 million for the arts, recreational facilities, and expansion of educational offerings.”
Contact Lynn Kohout at 402-440-2559, or firstname.lastname@example.org , or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/economic-development-certified-community for additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program.