Photo: Derek Clark – Planning and Zoning Manager, Andrew Brittenham – Utilities Manager, Chris Peterson – Mayor, Mary Scroggins – ED Manager and Jan Diehl – City Clerk.
Nebraska Department of Economic Development recognizes Superior as a Leadership Certified Community.
Local leaders’ long-term goals to provide housing and create better access to businesses, schools and recreation in the City of Superior (pop. 1,979) have earned accolades from the State of Nebraska. The Department of Economic Development (DED) this week announced the City’s recertification in Nebraska’s Leadership Certified Community (LCC) program. DED LCC Program Coordinator and Central Nebraska Business Development Consultant, Kelly Gewecke, honored local leaders during a special presentation on January 24.
Superior is one of 31 Nebraska LCCs to earn status in the program, which was created in 2011 to help villages and municipalities adapt to ongoing changes and opportunities in economic development. Certified communities must demonstrate a proficiency in strategic planning and display technological development preparedness to help new and existing businesses grow. Qualifying LCCs earn status in the program for five years, and are required to maintain community websites to market local development, which may include information on available sites and buildings and regional employment opportunities. The City of Superior received its original LCC certification in 2015 before being recertified this year.
City leaders’ efforts to build partnerships with the State of Nebraska and utilize DED programs have resulted in the completion of several projects since Superior’s first LCC certification. In 2016, the City received Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation (OOR) funding from the DED-administered Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NAHTF) after completing a local housing study. The award assisted in the rehabilitation of eight homes and the removal of 10 dilapidated homes.
The successful completion of Superior’s OOR project led to additional State assistance from a 2018 NAHTF Innovative Housing Demonstration award, which will result in the completion of infill family homes. Sale revenues from the project will create a revolving loan fund and encourage future housing investments in Superior. The detached single-family homes will feature a variety of housing styles. Construction on the first two units is near completion, and construction on two additional homes is currently underway. The City is exploring preliminary efforts to market the new homes.
“As Superior’s development leaders saw a growing demand for housing among young families, seniors and their local workforce, they recognized an opportunity to create housing to support all of these important sectors of their population,” Gewecke said. “By doing so, they are setting long-term goals to complement multi-generational growth in south-central Nebraska.”
City officials, Superior Development Corporation (SDC) and the Superior Chamber of Commerce spearheaded efforts to improve downtown façade and infrastructure development, which involved more than $1 million in local, state and private investments. Superior’s Downtown Building Improvement Program served as a catalyst for the City’s two-phase project, with assistance from the City of Superior and the South Central Economic Development District (SCEDD). SDC funded half of the phase one project through assistance from Nebraska’s Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act (LB840). The City’s voter approved LB840 program authorizes the collection of local tax dollars for economic projects, and may work in tandem with regional or state funding sources toward development efforts.
The downtown project included upgraded street and pedestrian lighting, reconstructed curbs, gutters and sidewalks, and updated business entrances to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Façade improvements at seven downtown businesses were also included. Superior’s two-phase project received assistance from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, administered by DED for downtown revitalization, in 2016 and 2018.
Mayor Christopher Peterson said the City encouraged downtown business leaders to get involved in the project, which was completed in 2019.
“SDC and the City of Superior appreciate the opportunity to partner with regional and state developers, and also understand the importance of building ongoing relationships with Superior’s valuable business leaders,” Peterson said. “Implementing resources for downtown business improvements encouraged local ownership in this long-term project, which has also created a platform for future growth.”
The City received additional CDBG assistance through a planning grant to conduct a Pedestrian Transportation and Stormwater Management study. The report examined pedestrian access to local schools, downtown Superior and health care facilities to determine cost-effective ways to improve walkability. Identification of the City’s top pedestrian transportation improvements led to assistance from a CDBG public works grant. Design on these improvements will be completed and bid in early 2022, and will result in nearly $600,000 in infrastructure improvements such as new sidewalks, ADA compliant curbs and marked crossings.
Peterson pointed to ongoing project development as a testament to the community’s continued commitment to economic growth.
“We, the City of Superior, believe that proactive economic development is the cornerstone of our future. With the third approval vote of our local LB840 sales tax in 2020, we again proved that our residents back our ideas, goals and financial investments. SCEDD and DED are vital partners in this process, and it’s good to be surrounded by people and institutions committed to the health of our rural way of life.”
For more information about the Leadership Certified Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-627-3151, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/leadership-certified-community/.