By developing community growth and opportunities for young people, the City of Geneva receives a State distinction for its economic leadership
Ongoing business ventures within and outside the city of Geneva (pop. 1,955), as well as efforts to introduce Fillmore County students to future career opportunities, have resulted in recognition continues from the state of Nebraska. Yesterday, Lt. Governor Mike Foley and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the city’s recertification under Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. DED Business Development Consultant Kelly Gewecke joined the Lieutenant Governor in celebrating the economic leadership of city leaders and members of the Fillmore County Development Corporation (FCDC).
Geneva is one of 40 communities in Nebraska to achieve EDCC status. The program is sponsored by Nebraska diplomats and administered by the DED. State officials created the EDCC program in 2005 to recognize communities for their readiness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. As part of the certification process, eligible communities must identify a well-defined program that actively engages with their existing business communities to provide an enabling environment for new development. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, supporting local funding and incentive programs, and initiating strategic planning. The City of Geneva obtained EDCC certification in 2010, 2015 and 2021.
“The City of Geneva appreciates the continued opportunity to grow in Nebraska’s EDCC program, which has encouraged partnerships between our business community, local government and economic developers,” said Geneva Mayor Eric Kamler. . “As members of this program for 12 years, we have learned how to develop our city’s strategic plan to meet the specific development needs of our region.
Mayor Kamler and the FCDC have led recent efforts to create business opportunities along the Highway 81 bypass. In 2021, city and county officials broke ground on the Genesis Drive project, located at the intersection of Highway 81 and R Street. Initial project development includes the completion of a Runza restaurant, a truck stop operated by Lichti Brothers Oil Company, and a 12-room motel owned by Aschoff Construction Osmund.
The Genesis Drive project is Geneva’s largest public-private partnership to date, and included nearly $3 million in private investment and $1 million in public infrastructure costs. The Geneva local option law on municipal economic development (LB 840) invests in the project; Nebraska voters endorsed LB 840 communities that direct a portion of sales tax money to economic development efforts.
“EDCC Nebraska leaders continually prioritize business development growth to broaden their tax bases and benefit their and surrounding communities, with essential amenities in rural Nebraska,” said Lt. Governor Foley. “The Genesis Drive project is a great example of a success story built on strong relationships between economic players and business owners in the region, and the State of Nebraska appreciates their continued investments.”
FCDC has prioritized leadership development efforts among professionals and entrepreneurs. The group’s ODEGEO class has grown significantly over the past five years and provides training and education to individuals in Geneva and Fillmore County. Youth leadership opportunities are also a key focus for FCDC members. Executive Director Eric Johnson regularly visits area schools to share with students the stories of successful businesses and community leaders in Fillmore County.
Johnson also conducted extensive discussions with older students about future employment opportunities in Fillmore County.
“FCDC’s recent emphasis on hosting meetings with upper-class high school students has encouraged open discussions in small groups, allowing us to learn more about each student’s career interests,” Johnson said. . “In doing so, we also have the opportunity to start FCDC’s professional relationships with talented young people in our region.”
Johnson also stressed the importance of local, regional and state relationships among Nebraska developers, which have been instrumental in creating countywide economic incentives. FCDC’s Revolving Loan Fund helps start-up and expanding businesses and complements the City’s LB840 and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programs.
For more information about the Certified Community Program in Economic Development, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or email@example.com, or visit https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/programs/community/ edcc/.