DECEMBER 16, 2015 (LINCOLN, NEB.)—Ravenna, Neb. (pop.1,378) has earned designation in the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s (DED) Certified Leadership Community Program.
“It was a great accomplishment to become a Certified Leadership Community,” said Ravenna Mayor Peg Dethlefs. “The City and Economic Development Corporation have worked closely to improve the Ravenna community as a whole.”
“The sense of accomplishment on becoming a Certified Leadership Community is overwhelming,” said Dana Dennison, Executive Director of Ravenna Economic Development Corporation (REDC).
“Becoming a Certified Leadership Community shows Ravenna’s pride and readiness to continue to move forward with strong leadership and an active business community,” said Ravenna City Clerk/Treasurer Kellie Crowell.
Ravenna has accomplished a long list of projects, including:
- Construction of a new 300,000-gallon water tower, water well, and water distribution lines with help from $2 million in grants and loans from the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
- Street projects involving milling and overlaying asphalt on 15 city blocks; repaving several downtown business alleys and resurfacing several intersections.
- Completion of a new comprehensive plan with zoning regulations, and a Community Needs Survey.
- The installation of new playground equipment at two parks and crumb rubber under all playground equipment.
- A swimming pool study to determine if the current pool can be rehabilitated, or if a new pool is needed.
- Tax Increment Financing-involved start-ups or expansions of Seneca Sunrise Assisted and Independent Living facility, Abengoa Bioenergy, and a local True Value store.
- Development of a condemnation and nuisance abatement plan to support the city’s goal to demolish unsafe houses and structures. During 2015, four houses and several outbuildings have been removed, and another house and an old hotel are in the condemnation process.
- Formation of a partnership between REDC and a private landowner focused on new housing options.
- Annexation of the 36-plus acres residential Lions Addition, and 204-plus acres residential and business Beaver Creek Addition.
- The award of a $5,200 Civic and Community Center Financing Fund grant to plan for a new or renovated library.
- The expansions of Seneca Sunrise Assisted and Independent Living that added rooms, a garage, exercise room and expanded dining area, and Wroblewski Feed that moved into a larger empty commercial building within the city limits.
- Start-up of nine new businesses, including Dollar General, antique and second-hand stores, graphic design businesses, a gym and spa, a specialty stained-glass creations business, and an irrigation business.
- Land purchase assistance for future housing projects.
- Receipt of several grants and loans—A Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad grant for a medical autoclave/sterilizer for a local medical clinic; an advertising grant to promote the annual Annevar (Ravenna spelled backwards) summer celebration; a $25,000 American Heart Association grant for a new heart monitor for Ravenna’s Emergency Unit; and a $10,000-plus grant from DEQ’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Program for crumb rubber.
- The purchase of two properties for a large housing development using LB840 (Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act) funding.
DED created the 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
For information about the Certified Leadership Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at firstname.lastname@example.org, 308-627-3151, or visit http://neded.org/community/community-info/community-improvement/leadership-community