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The "Marketing Hometown America" program sparked a lot of discussion in Neligh, and that program is now being honored for its innovation.
Neligh was one of just two communities in Nebraska -- Kimball was the other -- invited to participate in Marketing Hometown America, a series of community conversations to help market small towns. On Wednesday, officials received word that the program is being recognized for its effort.
Anita Hall, UNL Extension Educator, said the Marketing Hometown America program will been presented the 2014 Innovative Program Award from the prestigious international Community Development Society.
The three-state team of extension professionals (Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota) will be recognized at the annual meeting of the society in July.
Funding for Marketing Hometown America was provided by the University of Nebraska Rural Futures Institute. Hall said 10 local residents were trained as community study circle facilitators last fall and brought together more than 70 residents who participated in four conversations about the strengths and weaknesses of the community.
Each study circle designed a marketing plan for Neligh and presented it at a public forum to Neligh Economic Development director Greg Ptacek for use in the design of future goals for the city.
"Neligh was very fortunate to take part in this wonderful program," Ptacek said. "We’ve seen great things come from the Marketing Hometown America discussions and still have more that we plan to implement."
In February, the Economic Development Office partnered with Pitzer Digital to develop a logo for the City of Neligh based upon the suggestions from the Marketing Hometown America groups.
Ptacek said residents and the Neligh City Council chose the logo, along with the new slogan, "Not Too Small To Have It All," which promotes the fact that Neligh has a lot of amenities and activities while still having the small-town feeling. The slogan came from Stephanie Wanek’s Marketing Hometown America study group.
"Marketing Hometown America was driven by input and discussion by the citizens, and that’s pretty unique," Ptacek said. "We had a lot of buy-in from the participants who gave us their input. The City of Neligh is very happy to have been chosen as a pilot community to test this award-winning program."