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Nebraska Ag News Headlines
Imperial Honored for Success in Housing, Business
Nebraska Ag Connection - 08/11/2017

Lt. Gov. Mike Foley stressed the importance of local leadership and innovation within Imperial's business community Thursday, where he honored leaders for the city's ongoing success in economic development. For the second time in five years, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Department of Economic Development (DED) have recognized the City of Imperial (pop. 2,122) for earning certification as an Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC). DED Business Development Consultant Brittany Hardin joined the Lt. Governor to recognize city leaders and supporters during a community coffee on Thursday morning.

Imperial is one of 39 communities to earn EDCC certification in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by the DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. The community earned original certification in June 2012 and earned recertification in July 2017.

As part of the certification process, a qualifying community must identify a well-defined program that actively engages with its existing business community and offers a supportive environment for welcoming new economic development projects. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, local financing and incentive programs, and a strategic plan for economic development, such as implementing a progressive strategy to grow the community's labor market.

"The EDCC program recognizes Nebraska communities that set an example for growth, and outstanding leadership in Imperial has built the city's reputation as an innovative area for economic development," said Lt. Gov. Foley. "Over the past five years, the city has opened 25 new businesses and created 72 additional jobs. Since Imperial's original EDCC recognition, these community additions contributed to $2,250,000 in new capital investment in the community."

In addition, community leaders encouraged and assisted in the expansion of eight existing businesses in Imperial. Since 2012, these expansions created an additional 10 jobs and a net increase of $7,238,000 in capital investment.

Community leaders worked closely with a local housing developer to build more than 20 new homes in the Cornerstone Development Property. In addition, private developers constructed 10 more homes in other areas of the city. Over the past five years, housing availability has increased in Imperial by four percent. Since 2013, 25 homes were successfully completed; this year, the community has issued seven additional permits for new housing construction. Two new buildings are currently under construction at Cornerstone Development Park, made possible in part through the city's LB840 program.

"EDCC communities recognize that housing availability is a vital component in the development of an area's workforce," said Nebraska Diplomats President Jane McDaniel. "Imperial's ability to create partnerships with local talent in the construction industry not only allows for a significant reinvestment in the community; it also sends a strong message about the city's commitment to economic growth."

Additional economic achievements over the past five years include the community's successful recruitment of a national retail chain. The nationwide closure of Alco stores had significant impacts on Imperial's sales market. Local leaders' efforts to grow relationships with executives of nationwide retailer Bomgaar's led to a site visit at the former Alco building. Within six months, Bomgaar's opened an Imperial store at the site.

The city's LB840 program also contributed to a Colorado business owner's expansion into Imperial. Broadway Steakhouse opened in downtown Imperial following recruitment efforts by Imperial's City Council, Chamber of Commerce and Community Development Director.

"Imperial has been known for many years as a progressive community," said Mayor Dwight Coleman. "It's an honor to have a certification like the EDCC, which enables us to show others what we have done in Imperial and that we are ready to grow even more."

The Lt. Governor's visit to Imperial was one stop on his tour of central and southwest Nebraska this week to recognize communities for their ongoing roles in economic development. On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Foley recognized the City of Gothenburg for the completion of the community's new industrial tract. After his visit to Imperial Thursday, Lt. Gov. Foley joined Hayes County leaders to celebrate the opening of Buffalo Plains Genetics, LLC, a new farrowing unit between Hayes Center and Maywood.

"Ongoing development in rural Nebraska continues to play an essential role in Nebraska's overall economic success," Lt. Gov. Foley said. "This week, I've learned about the addition of jobs in Hayes County, Gothenburg's ability to recruit industry with new infrastructure, and Imperial's success in capital investment. The State of Nebraska appreciates the opportunity to recognize these communities in their efforts to grow Nebraska."

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