The City of Columbus is one of 40 Nebraska Communities to earn EDCC status in Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community Program. Business Development Consultant Ashley Rice-Gerlach says this is a re-certification for Columbus.
Rice-Gerlach says some of the things the city has to do to remain a certified community is they have to have available sites and buildings, be actively engaged in the business community, have a strategic plan for economic development, and work towards promoting economic growth through different media channels.
Rice-Gerlach says this speaks volumes about the city.
Rice-Gerlach says Columbus will now be able to continue to promote themselves as an Economic Development Certified Community when working on projects.
Over the past several years, CEC and the Columbus Community Foundation have coordinated ownership of a vacated Walmart property for ongoing development. Following a 10-year idle period with no property development, the CEC acquired management rights from the original owner. Local leaders actively marketed the 12-acre property to prospects and developers looking for available commercial sites. The site was sold in 2018, and is now home to
a Bomgaars and a Hampton Inn. In addition, construction of a 60-unit apartment complex, Freddie’s Restaurant, and a 62-unit indoor storage facility is currently underway. The CEC will also develop nearly 55 acres for light industry growth and energy infrastructure, with plans for completion later this year.
She adds they’ve done a nice job of working with local leaders.
Local leaders continue to focus on business and industry recruitment, which includes workforce development for several new divisions at Columbus Community Hospital, including a daycare and specialty services. The community is also committed to infrastructure improvements to benefit area youth. Completion of a new high school and remodeled middle school recently provided added space for students in local grade schools.
CEC Co-Chair and Loup Power District Vice President of Corporate Services, Todd J. Duren, attributed the community’s economic growth to strong local relationships between the CEC, the City and Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. Ongoing collaboration with Central Community College, Nebraska Public Power District, Platte County, Northeast Nebraska Economic Development, Nebraska Business Development Center and the State of Nebraska highlights a number of the community’s regional and state partners.
Other area communities to earn EDCC status include West Point, Scribner, Fremont, Blair, Wayne, Norfolk, Albion, Hartington, and South Sioux City.
State officials established the EDCC program in 2005 to recognize communities for their preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. As part of the certification process, qualifying communities must display a well-defined program that actively engages with the existing business community and offers a supportive environment for welcoming new economic development projects. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, local financing and incentive programs and a strategic plan for economic development.
For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community program, visit https://opportunity.nebraska.