January 17, 2018 (LINCOLN, NEB.) – This week, the Department of Economic Development (DED) honored the City of St. Paul (pop.2299) as the agency’s newest Leadership Certified Community (LCC). DED Business Development Consultant and LCC Program Director Kelly Gewecke honored local leaders during a special presentation at the city’s monthly board meeting on January 16th.

St. Paul is the 22nd community to qualify for DED’s LCC program, created in 2011 to help Nebraska communities adapt to ongoing changes and opportunities in economic development. Qualifying communities must demonstrate an understanding for and preparedness in strategic and community planning, as well as display readiness in technological development to help new and existing businesses grow. Certified communities earn designation in the program for five years and are required to update and maintain information and websites.

Local leaders’ efforts to develop business and housing opportunities resulted in successful partnerships within the community. Collaboration between the City of St. Paul, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the State of Nebraska initiated several local economic expansion projects. A USDA Rural Development Grant allowed the community to break ground on an expansion of the Howard County Medical Center in December 2017, which is part of a long-term effort to recruit additional health care professionals. Once complete, the expansion will accommodate two new doctors who have committed to joining the clinic’s staff in 2018 and 2019.

In addition, the city committed to new construction for a community civic center; St. Paul also received 2017 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from DED for downtown revitalization planning. Over the past several years, Casey’s General Store and Loup River Distilling opened new businesses in the community. Recent business expansions were also completed at Bosselman’s Pump & Pantry, T.O. Haas and Herv’s Automotive Transmissions.

Continued work to improve and expand the community played an important role in St. Paul’s successful LCC application, which encourages collaboration in economic development efforts.

“Over the past several years, our community has worked together to gather many economic development pieces necessary for growth,” St. Paul Development Corporation Executive Mike Feeken said. “Working on DED’s LCC process helped bring those pieces together and provide St. Paul with essential tools to move in a positive direction.”

Local leaders say community pride inspired several projects, including the implementation of a Property Improvement Program, commitment to creating a local hike/bike trail, and updates to the Elmwood Cemetery and St. Paul’s baseball fields.

“St. Paul is blessed with an abundance of small town leaders who spark the true spirit of volunteerism,” Mayor Tracy Howard said. “Continued teamwork among our residents has led to our many successes.”

The City of St. Paul recently authorized Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for the development of two residential housing subdivisions.

“As we learn more about housing needs in Nebraska communities, local leaders’ efforts in building these opportunities prove that St. Paul residents are invested in their city’s future,” said LCC Program Director Kelly Gewecke. “The city’s commitment to business expansions, quality health care and additional amenities are great examples of success for other Nebraska communities working to grow. These successes are trademarks of DED’s Leadership Certified Community program.”

For information about the Leadership Certified Community Program,

contact Kelly Gewecke at, 308-627-3151, or visit