Expanding Community Growth and Opportunities for Youth, City of Geneva Earns State Honor for Economic Leadership
Ongoing business ventures in and outside the city of Geneva (pop. 1,955), as well as efforts to introduce Fillmore County students to future career opportunities, have resulted in continued recognition from the State of Nebraska. Yesterday, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the City’s recertification in Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. DED Business Development Consultant Kelly Gewecke joined the Lt. Gov. to celebrate economic leadership by City leaders and members of the Fillmore County Development Corporation (FCDC).
Geneva is one of 40 Nebraska communities to earn EDCC status. The program is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. State officials established the EDCC program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. As part of the certification process, qualifying communities must identify a well-defined program that actively engages with their existing business communities to offer a supportive environment for new development. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, supporting local financing and incentive programs and initiating strategic planning. The City of Geneva earned EDCC certification in 2010, 2015 and 2021.
“The City of Geneva appreciates the continued opportunity to grow in Nebraska’s EDCC program, which has encouraged partnerships between our business community, our local government and economic developers,” said Geneva Mayor Eric Kamler. “As 12-year members of this program, we’ve learned how to develop our City’s strategic plan to accommodate specific development needs in our area.”
Mayor Kamler and FCDC led recent efforts to create business opportunities along the Highway 81 bypass. In 2021, City and County officials broke ground on the Genesis Drive project, located at the intersection of Highway 81 and R Street. Early project development includes the completion of a Runza restaurant, a truck stop operated by Lichti Brothers Oil Company, and a 12-room motel owned by Aschoff Construction from Osmond.
The Genesis Drive project is Geneva’s largest public-private partnership to date, and included close to $3 million in private investments and $1 million in public infrastructure costs. Geneva’s Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB 840) invested in the project; Nebraska’s voter approved LB 840 communities dedicate a portion of sales tax dollars for economic development efforts.
“Leaders in Nebraska’s EDCC’s continuously prioritize growth in business development to expand their tax bases and to benefit their communities, and surrounding communities, with essential amenities in rural Nebraska,” Lt. Gov. Foley said. “The Genesis Drive project is a great example of success built from strong relationships between economic players and area business owners, and the State of Nebraska values their continued investments.”
FCDC has prioritized efforts in leadership development among business professionals and entrepreneurs. The group’s ODEGEO class has grown considerably over the past five years and provides training and education for individuals from Geneva and Fillmore County. Youth leadership opportunities are also a key focus for FCDC members. Executive Director Eric Johnson consistently visits area schools to expose students to the stories of successful business and community leaders in Fillmore County.
Johnson has also led expansive discussions about with older students about future employment opportunities in Fillmore County.
“FCDC’s recent focus on hosting meetings with high school upperclassmen has encouraged open discussions in small groups, allowing us to learn more about each student’s career interests,” Johnson said. “By doing so, we also have the opportunity to begin FCDC’s professional relationships with talented youth in our area.”
Johnson also stressed the importance of local, regional and state relationships among developers in Nebraska, which have been instrumental in creating county-wide economic incentives. FCDC’s revolving loan fund assists startup and expanding businesses and complements the City’s LB840 and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programs.
For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, Contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or email@example.com, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/programs/community/edcc/.