Neligh earns Leadership Certification

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Neligh earns Leadership Certification

Neligh, Neb. (pop. 1,542) has earned designation in the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s (NDED) Certified Leadership Community Program. It is the fourth community to earn certification, joining Tecumseh, Madison and Central City.

“Our primary focus is business retention and expansion, and we’ve seen ample capital investment as a result,” said Greg Ptacek, Neligh economic development director. “The city’s public-private partnership with a local developer has moved us toward solving our housing crunch. Neligh also is lucky to have local leadership that understands it takes a holistic approach to solve big problems. These leaders strive every day to reinforce Neligh’s motto “not too small to have it all’.”

“Three years ago, I had the privilege to work with a dedicated group of folks in Neligh to design a comprehensive approach to rural community and economic development,” said Caleb Pollard, former Valley County Economic Development executive director, and current co-owner of Scratchtown Brewery. “The ‘Neligh Dream Team’ desired to change the direction of the community…to put forth the planning, work and resources to change their trajectory. That’s exactly what they did. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a rural community pull itself up by the bootstraps and put forth a self-determined plan of excellence. Years later they are reaping what they’ve sown…a positive rural future.”

“We believe vibrant rural people and places are essential to the fabric of American life. So, we try to partner with rural communities whose residents believe tomorrow can be better than today, and are willing to invest themselves in making it so. Neligh is just such a community,” said Chuck Schroeder, director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Rural Future Institute. “The folks there have consistently combined wishes with work, and created a community that is a best location for young people seeking a place from which to launch careers, build families, and engage in an environment where their values make a difference. We are proud to be associated with a town that models success economically, socially, culturally and environmentally in a way that inspires others across the region and around the country.”

Neligh has recorded a significant amount of investment since grassroots economic development efforts were first started in 2012:

  • More than $27.5 million in capital investment in Neligh
  • More than $440 million in capital investment in Antelope County
  • Welcomed 12 new businesses
  • Transitioned 11 businesses to new ownership
  • Developed “This is MY Neligh” community marketing campaign viewed more than 7,800 times in 48 states and 39 countries
  • Leveraged public and private partnership to develop an 18-lot housing subdivision with seven lots sold in less than 15 months
  • Established an innovative Healthcare Professional Attraction Program, leveraging more than $190,000 in student loan repayment assistance

NDED created the program in 2011 with the purpose of helping smaller Nebraska communities deal head-on with challenges and change. Communities must demonstrate having a solid planning and implementation process in place. Communities also must actively take advantage of technology, or be willing to learn to meet program objectives.

  • Applicant communities are evaluated in:
  • Community involvement
  • Strategic planning
  • Community planning and zoning
  • Business and technology development
  • Incentives and implementation

For information about Neligh’s ongoing efforts, contact Greg Ptacek at 402-887-4447, or

For information about the Certified Leadership Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at , 308-627-3151, or visit

CONTACT Kate Ellingson at 800-426-6505, 402-471-3749 or