The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced the City of Curtis, Neb. (pop. 896) as the State of Nebraska’s newest Leadership Certified Community (LCC). The city was certified in August, 2018 and was officially recognized during the community’s city council meeting on September 12. DED Business Development Consultant Ashley Rice-Gerlach, who serves a 17-county territory encompassing the city of Curtis and Frontier County, honored local leaders during the meeting.
Curtis is the 23rd Nebraska 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.
Growing partnerships between the City of Curtis, Medicine Creek Chamber of Commerce and Medicine Valley Economic Development Corporation (MVEDC) are contributing to ongoing economic growth in southwest Nebraska. Local leaders’ utilization of the community’s LB840 program assists both new and expanding businesses, and aids in preparations for local businesses’ transitions in ownership. Curtis’ LB840 sales tax provides grants, loans or land to individuals or entrepreneurs working to establish or expand a business. LB840 loans are currently in use in six Curtis businesses.
Development of a community industrial site, initiated by Curtis’ 10-year Comprehensive Plan, resulted in the recent construction of the park’s first business. Construction on a local seed business in the park, located near Curtis Municipal Airport, is nearly complete.
MVEDC Board Members say the community’s LCC designation now offers an additional tool for economic growth in southwest Nebraska.
“A few years ago, we received a call from DED asking if we had ground optioned, zoned and ready to go for a business looking to relocate to our area. We did not, but another town nearby did. Now, they have additional jobs contributing to success in their community. Since then, the MVEDC and Curtis City Council have taken new steps to prepare for economic growth,” said MVEDC Administrator, Clerk and Treasurer Doug Schultz. “Becoming a Leadership Certified Community has helped us prepare for and understand what businesses need in order to grow. We are now in a better place for economic development, and the City of Curtis thanks DED for help and guidance in achieving this recognition.”
The City’s innovative housing program provides incentives for Nebraskans to grow their families in Curtis. The City has gifted five housing lots on land adjacent to the community golf course. A 2013 housing study, made possible through a Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) Housing Study Program, indicated a rise in the community’s population over the past two decades. The study encouraged local leaders to continue efforts to accommodate growth by developing additional housing units.
“By providing new opportunities for market-rate housing, Curtis’ residential land program is retaining southwest Nebraska’s top talent – and setting a strong example for other communities,” said DED’s LCC Program Director Kelly Gewecke. “Creating opportunities for growth in housing and business development assisted in the community’s recently-earned status as an LCC.”
The city’s inter-local agreements with the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) and Medicine Valley Public Schools allows for equipment and labor sharing for NCTA campus projects, construction and fundraising. The agreements encourage student involvement in local service projects.
Mayor Kevin Brown appreciates Curtis’ community-wide commitment to sustaining its residents’ quality of life, as well as new efforts to promote economic growth.
“Curtis’ LCC designation is wonderful news,” Mayor Brown said. “The city council and MVEDC committed a great deal of time and talent to earn this recognition from the State of Nebraska. This will be a valuable tool in moving our community forward.”
For information about the Leadership Certified Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-627-3151; or, visit