The City of Neligh was recognized Tuesday night as a "Leadership Community," becoming just the fourth city in Nebraska to receive such an honor.
Kelly Gewecke, a field service representative with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (NDED), presented Mayor Joe Hartz, Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek and City Clerk Dana Klabenes with the honor at the beginning of the City Council meeting.
"It is my privilege and pleasure to be in Neligh tonight to present this to you and your wonderful community," Gewecke said. "You are the fourth community on our list and have gone through this wonderful work."
Neligh's work has caught the attention of many statewide leaders, including Chuck Schroeder, founding executive director of the Rural Futures Institute. Although Schroeder was unable to attend the presentation Tuesday, he sent a statement with Gewecke that made council members grin with pride.
"We believe vibrant rural people are essential to the fabric of American life, so we try to partner with rural communities we believe tomorrow can be better than today and are willing to invest in itself in making it so," Schroeder said. "Neligh is just such a community. The folks there consistently combine wishes with work and have created a community that is the best location for young people seeking a place from which to launch careers, raise families and engage an environment where their values make a difference. We are proud to be associated with a town that models successes economically, socially, culturally and environmentally in a way that inspires others across the region and around the country."
Klabenes said what makes the honor so remarkable is that this is a community-based recognition based on the hard work of everyone for several years.
"The community has played such an important role in bringing Neligh to this point. It's exciting today and it's exciting moving forward because this is really just the tip of the iceberg," Klabenes said. "This stems from the support seen with the Grow Neligh group, the town hall meetings, development of the city's comprehensive plan and so much more. This is community based success that will continue."
Tecumseh, Madison and Central City have also been recognized as Leadership Communities.
Ptacek told the Council because Neligh is now a Leadership Community, it qualifies for bonus points toward the downtown revitalization grant the City plans to apply for. Ptacek spent much time detailing the grant for council members, who took several first steps toward revitalization.
The Antelope County News will detail this plan in an upcoming article.
According to the NDED, communities must institute a solid planning and implementation process. In addition, communities must learn to take advantage of technology to meet objectives set throughout this process. The purpose of this program is to provide a framework for communities to follow. This framework will provide communities with a solid foundation to meet these challenges and successfully adapt to the changing world around them.
To qualify, a community must meet the following requirements: