Wausa is $30,000 closer to revitalizing its downtown thanks to the hard work of the community and economic development team.
The Knox County community was one of seven towns announced on Tuesday as having received $30,000 in CDBG funds to used to develop a strategic downtown revitalization plan. That plan will determine the needs and interests of downtown businesses and residents to prioritize business and infrastructure improvements in the historic commercial district.
An additional $14,550 in matching resources will be used for the project.
Wausa then will submit its plan in hopes of receiving Phase II funding, which means receiving a grant for roughly $350,000 to put toward revitalizing the community through that Phase I plan.
Another Knox County community, Creighton, is currently working toward Phase II funding after receiving the Phase I grand last year.
On Tuesday, Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced it has awarded $206,550 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to seven Nebraska communities to complete Phase I (pre-development and planning) in the Downtown Revitalization category. These projects are designed to develop a strategy for improving businesses and infrastructure within central business districts.
The CDBG Downtown Revitalization Category is open to CDBG non-entitlement incorporated municipalities throughout Nebraska. Grants are administered by DED from the State’s annual allocation of CDBG funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Communities that successfully complete the planning phase have the opportunity to apply for Phase II (implementation) resources, which may include up to $350,000 per community for implementing the CDBG-eligible activities defined in the approved plans.
Last month, Wausa hosted three members of the revitalization committee in hopes of qualifying for phase one planning for the state's downtown revitalization grants.
The committee, along with Knox County Economic Development Director Megan Hanefeldt and Northeast Nebraska Economic Development Director Lowell Schroeder, took a tour of downtown Wausa to speak with business owners and see various opportunities for improvement in the town.
After the tour, the group met with more than 30 community members for a lunch and open forum discussion of the opportunities the committee saw. The lunch was served by members of Wausa's FBLA.
The committee spoke of the criteria they are looking for when determining who is eligible for the grants and they were very complimentary of Wausa.
"One of the things we always see when we come to a town, and you can tell right away, is the pride in your community," said Brian Gaskill, Deputy Director of Housing and Community Development. "It is clear in Wausa that their is definitely that."
Gaskill explained that they look to see if their are existing businesses in downtown, other opportunities for improvement and whether or not it makes sense to give the grant to the town as an investment for the state as a whole.
"Clearly what we've seen in our visit today is that their is a good mix of everything," he said. "You have quality businesses, quality people and you have pride."
Below are brief descriptions about the other communities that will be undertaking Phase I planning projects and their awards:
Albion (pop. 1,645) —$30,000 in CDBG funds will be used to develop a comprehensive downtown revitalization plan that would create the blueprint for creating business and infrastructure improvements that would help to increase revenues and attract new investments. An additional $14,600 in matching resources will be used for the project.
Cambridge (pop. 1,020) —$30,000 in CDBG funds will be used to develop a strategic pre-development plan for business and infrastructure improvements that focus on preserving historic resources and attracting additional businesses and customers to the downtown. An additional $10,600 in matching resources will be used for the project.
Gretna (pop. 4,165) —$26,550 in CDBG funds will be used to develop a comprehensive downtown revitalization plan that encompasses preserving the city’s historic buildings, (including enhanced usage and improved accessibility), and developing new businesses in the downtown. An additional $7,850 in matching resources will be used for the project.
Norfolk (pop. 22,835) —$30,000 in CDBG funds will be used to develop a strategic downtown plan that will focus on continuing efforts to improve and revitalize buildings and determine ways in which to enhance the downtown for events that help to attract additional visitors and customers. An additional $7,500 in matching resources will be used for the project.
Seward (pop. 6,050) —$30,000 in CDBG funds will be used to develop a comprehensive downtown revitalization plan that focuses on preserving the City’s 100-year-old downtown; enhancing the area for business and visitors; and evaluating the potential for upper story residential development. An additional $7,500 in matching resources will be used for the project.
York (pop. 7,450) —$30,000 in CDBG funds will be used to develop a strategic downtown plan that works to prioritize downtown improvements to properties and enhancing the area for business and visitors. An additional $7,500 in matching resources will be used for the project.