From left: Councilwoman Kelly Utley, Economic Dev. Director Melissa Norgard, Vice Mayor Roger Gallaway, Councilman Wendall Gaston, Mayor Joe Arterburn, DED Business Dev. Consultant Brittany Hardin, Councilman Bob Olsen, City Administrator Ed Sadler.
For the third time in 10 years, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Department of Economic Development (DED) have recognized the City of Sidney (pop. 7,109) as an Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC). DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin honored the city’s Economic Development Department during Sidney’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, February 13th.
Sidney is one of 39 communities to earn EDCC certification in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by the DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. The community earned original certification in November 2007 and earned recertification in December 2012 and January 2018.
Over the past five years, economic development team members and city officials have led extensive efforts to build opportunities within Sidney’s business community. Successful partnerships between city leadership and the State of Nebraska led to the recruitment of two prominent manufacturing businesses in 2017.
Ohio-based Lukjan Metal Products has created dozens of jobs at its new plant location in Sidney, which opened in the spring of 2017. The company serves as the country’s fourth-largest sheet metal manufacturer and specializes in sheet metal pipe, duct and fittings for the HVAC wholesale market. Collaboration between the city, company and the State of Nebraska resulted in funding from DED’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Customized Job Training (CJT) programs.
Local, state and international relationships fostered Canada-based Agri-Plastics’ decision to locate in western Nebraska. Members of DED’s Business Recruitment Team led a months-long effort to highlight opportunities for company growth in Sidney. Agri-Plastics plans to open its doors in early March and expects to hire 20 employees in 2018. In the next five years, Agri-Plastics plans to hire up to 40 additional employees. Late last year, the City of Sidney successfully applied for assistance from DED’s Site and Building Development Fund (SBDF). The SBDF funding will be used to assist with the building acquisition for Agri-Plastics’ expansion facility, located adjacent to Lukjan Metal Products.
“Nebraska’s economic development programs were developed to help Nebraska’s businesses and communities grow,” said DED Director Dave Rippe. “Our agency has formed a strong relationship with Sidney’s economic development team to recruit two manufacturing companies to the community. This partnership helped create more than 50 jobs in Sidney, and will serve as a great platform for future economic opportunities.”
The City of Sidney is actively working to market available workforce, office space and housing in the community in ongoing efforts to recruit businesses. The community partnered with the Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce, Nebraska Department of Labor (DOL) and the Cheyenne County Community Center to host a job fair with nine local businesses, including Lukjan and Agri-Plastics, in late 2017. More than 200 people attended the event. DED recruiters and Sidney officials are actively pursuing potential businesses in the Denver and Chicago areas. Last summer, Sidney’s team completed a promotional video about the benefits of living and working in the community.
“Local leadership fosters successful recruitment and expansion of businesses and is a key component of Nebraska’s EDCC program,” said Nebraska Diplomats President Jane McDaniel. “Sidney officials’ ability to market their community online, in every corner of Nebraska and across the Midwest is a sign of outstanding progress in a community working to retain its workforce.”
In addition to marketing Sidney to potential business owners from outside the community, the Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual leadership class designed to broaden and deepen Sidney’s pool of community-based leaders. Leadership Cheyenne County focuses on developing local residents’ commitment to accomplishing community goals; participants will leave the program with a greater understanding of Cheyenne County’s potential for growth.
Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC) officials are spearheading efforts to open a Center for Entrepreneurship to encourage potential business development within western Nebraska.
“Representatives of DED, DOL, WNCC and other state entities continue to assist our local efforts to help our residents remain in our community,” said Sidney Mayor Joe Arterburn. “The roles of these entities include providing educational incentives for our already talented pool of employees that hopefully helps them to continue living and working in Sidney. Many of these workers have grown their careers in Sidney, are wonderful assets to western Nebraska and are an important piece in our ability to prepare for new business development. Becoming recertified in Nebraska’s EDCC program is a testament to our community’s hard work to prepare for future growth.”
ct Lynn Kohout at 402-440-2599, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/economic-development-certified-community-edcc/ for information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program.