Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cambridge, Neb. Proves Small Rural Towns Can Thrive

Small, rural towns can thrive in 2015.  And Cambridge, Neb. (pop.1,063) is proving it.

Located in Furnas County in southwest Nebraska -- 25 miles east of McCook and more than 50 miles south of Interstate 80 -- Cambridge has earned designation in the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Certified Leadership Community Program. It is the fifth community to earn certification, joining Tecumseh, Madison, Central City and Neligh.

Cambridge has amassed an impressive list of achievements:

• Ten new businesses have opened since 2010.
• A new 77-acre Harvest Meadows Subdivision is home to two new businesses and six new homes (two under contract).
• To date, 17 businesses have been awarded $60,440 from the Facade Grant Program, which has helped create improvements valued over $147,906
• A Down Payment Assistance Program has made seven low-interest loans totaling $121,800 to individuals and families to purchase or build homes in Cambridge. 
• The community’s Economic Development program oversees a Revolving Loan Fund to encourage business development. Currently, $62,968.59 in low-interest loans have been made to seven local businesses.
• Economic Development also operates an Internship Program, offering $1,000 grants to local businesses as an incentive to hire interns. To date, eight businesses have taken advantage of the program.
• The first College and Career Fair was hosted by Cambridge Economic Development in October 2014. The event featured 20 businesses and colleges and attracted 140 students from four area high schools.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development created their Leadership Community Program in 2011 with the purpose of helping smaller Nebraska communities deal head-on with challenges and change. Communities must demonstrate having a solid planning and implementation process in place. Communities also must actively take advantage of technology, or be willing to learn to meet program objectives. 

Applicant communities are evaluated in: community involvement; strategic planning; community planning and zoning; business and technology development; incentives and implementation.

Cambridge has proven if you want to improve your small town, a little energy and initiative and smarts can get you there.  (We thank the reader who sent this information to our e-mail.)

For information about the Certified Leadership Development Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at kelly.gewecke@nebraska.gov, (308) 627-3151, or visit http://neded.org/community/community-info/community-improvement/leadership-community.

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