Department of Economic Development honors Pender as LCC for ongoing industry expansion efforts
August 11, 2020 (LINCOLN) — Continued growth in local health care and retail sectors and increased housing opportunities in the Village of Pender (pop. 1,113) have been recognized by the State of Nebraska. This week, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the community’s most recent certification in the state’s Leadership Certified Community (LCC) Program. DED Business Development Consultant Lyndsy Jenness honored City officials during a special presentation at the Pender Community Development Board meeting on Monday, August 10.
Pender is one of 28 Nebraska communities to qualify for DED’s LCC program, created in 2011 to help villages and municipalities adapt to ongoing changes and opportunities in economic development. Certified communities must demonstrate an understanding for and preparedness in strategic planning, and display readiness in technological development to help new and existing businesses grow. Qualifying LCC’s 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 Village of Pender was recognized as an LCC in 2015 prior to the community’s most recent certification in 2020.
Over the past five years, members of Pender Community Development, Inc. (PCD) have led several economic development projects resulting in business expansions and job creation. PCD partnered with local investors to develop the Crossroads Lodge, a 10-bedroom hotel, which was completed in 2015. Pender volunteers were responsible for the 2018 completion of a $7 million community center project through local fundraising efforts. The Pender Community Center is currently home to two local businesses, including a child-care facility.
“Pender is honored to be selected as one of Nebraska’s Leadership Certified Communities,” Village Chairman Bill Newton said. “It takes a great group of village officials, volunteers and business owners to honor their commitment to drive leadership and bring out the best in everyone. Pender is a truly great community with innovative and caring leaders who are committed to ongoing economic growth.”
PCD’s consistent efforts to revitalize Main Street led to the creation or expansion of five downtown businesses and two area living facilities. Retail and dining businesses Uptown Pix and Rosey’s Restaurant opened in 2015 and 2016, followed by the additions of Align Chiropractic, The Fixx Salon and VonCora in 2018 and 2019. Two Main Street housing projects also came to fruition; over the past several years. Palace Lofts and Old Market Apartments added 19 upscale, upper-level apartments to Main Street.
In 2017, the City earned Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) assistance for Downtown Revitalization (DTR) planning. As of Summer 2020, 11 local businesses had requested funding for the first round of façade improvement grants generated through the CDBG program.
PCD’s ongoing efforts to create new housing opportunities led to the organization’s purchase of Towne Center Apartments, which currently offers 11 units for Pender’s elderly and disabled population. City collaboration with the State of Nebraska resulted in additional state assistance from Nebraska’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NAHTF). Logan Valley Cottages were completed in 2016 consisting of five rental units.
PCD and the Village of Pender are currently working on efforts to make the Pender Senior Center handicap-accessible. The project is slated for completion in late 2020.
PCD President Derwin Roberts said the community’s success was derived from a number of partnerships with the Village of Pender, Pender Thurston Community and Education Foundation and a multitude of additional organizations.
“Pender’s LCC recertification indicates proactive leadership and collaboration among community leaders,” Roberts said. “These ongoing partnerships establish the necessary framework to continue our community’s strong foundation. A Community that works together will thrive!”
For additional information about the Leadership Certified Community (LCC) Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at firstname.lastname@example.org, 308-627-3151, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/program/leadership-certified-community/