The average traveler might describe Scribner, Neb., (pop. 980), as a small rural town. The word “small,” however, in no way encompasses the accomplishments undertaken by citizens of this hardy, determined community. Their downtown area visibly attests to this, with its newly-lain brick road, award- winning street lights, improvements to building facades, an upgraded water system, and an overall charm that attracts compliments from many.
Many steps were enacted to make these changes possible. “We rolled up our sleeves and got to work in search of funding options,” said Deb Eggleston, Scribner’s economic development director. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) answered the call for assistance, and in October 2009, awarded Scribner with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Downtown Revitalization funding. Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, Miller & Associates, Nebraska Public Power District, and Scribner Economic Development were also vital to the success of this project.
The CDBG Downtown Revitalization program divided the project into two phases. During Phase I, the City was awarded $24,000 to complete a comprehensive downtown plan. A business survey was conducted to assess which areas needed the most improvements. Results identified several projects, however top priority was creating a façade improvement program, providing ADA accessible sidewalks, fixing a crumbling intersection while retaining the historic brick streets, and upgrading water lines to provide better water flow for fire safety along the main street.
The Phase II award included $350,000 to implement elements of the downtown plan. These funds were able to leverage other resources to improve infrastructure and provide ten businesses with funding for façade improvements. Funding also supported storm sewer repairs, and installation of the new LED street lights, which earned the “Project of the Year” award by the Nebraska Municipal Power Pool.
Downtown Scribner has drawn the admiration of many, and continues to be an inspiration for small communities with big dreams. In a recent Fremont Tribune article praising the City’s successes, Economic Development Coordinator Deb Eggleston said, “I think it’s a great beginning, but the best is yet to come,” adding that she anticipates business growth. “There’s a lot in our future to be excited about.”