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Teamwork makes the dream work, and the City of Neligh was recognized Tuesday afternoon for not only embracing that attitude, but also helping several Antelope County communities with their economic development goals.
The Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD) Board of Directors and Staff presented the City of Neligh Economic Development with the Doug Bereuter Accomplished Community Award. The award recognized the community for its economic development accomplishments and willingness to collaborate with others in the region, including Clearwater, Orchard and Tilden.
On hand to accept the award were Lauren Sheridan-Simonsen, assistant economic development director; Gabe Steinmeyer, new economic development director; Dana Klabenes, city clerk; and Steph Wanek, city council member. Former economic development director Greg Ptacek was unable to attend.
“Neligh is a progressive community,” said NENEDD Community Planner Lowell Schroeder. “Greg and Lauren have utilized a lot of economic development tools from LB 840 to community building grants within Neligh. They’ve also been willing to share their experiences with other communities.”
Neligh has a collaborative partnership with the Village of Clearwater and has been approached with questions from other communities, including Orchard and Tilden.
“We were recently asked by members of the Orchard community to come and talk about how we got started and the best ways to move forward,” Sheridan-Simonsen said. “And active community members in Tilden have inquired about what Neligh has done.”
Neligh’s economic development office is happy to answer questions, she said, because that strengthening the Antelope County economy helps Neligh’s business district.
“By building the entire region, we build a better Neligh. It’s not a competition between communities. We need to work together,” Sheridan-Simonsen said.
Schroeder said a key reason Neligh was selected for this prestigious award was its Downtown Revitalization project, which will see more than $500,000 in improvements in the Old Mill District during the next three years. That includes a $350,000 grant from the state.
The grant took several years and a lot of planning from the City of Neligh, along with work from Ptacek and Sheridan-Simonsen. Schroeder said those individuals need to be commended for their dedication to the business community.
“When you look at all of the new businesses in Neligh and those that have been transitioned to new owners, those are all key aspects to economic development,” Schroeder said. “Greg and Lauren have done a tremendous job with making Neligh a healthy business district.”
Wanek said she's proud of not only the efforts that have taken place in Neligh, but the entire region.
"We are very proud of the work done through the Neligh Economic Development office," she said. "Impressive efforts in the last few years has led to progress in our community and surrounding communities. When we work together, we can ensure a bright future for the whole region."
Ptacek, who last month ended his run as Neligh’s first economic development director, has been given much credit for putting the community on the map. He’s quick to point out that it took many to reach this level and will continue to take effort by many more progressive-minded individuals.
“Neligh’s done a lot of hard work to get to this point. It’s been a team effort,” Ptacek said. “The community has stepped up to embrace small businesses and has a forward-thinking attitude.”