May 1, 2017 (LINCOLN, NEB.) -- Lt. Governor Mike Foley has recognized the city of West Point (Pop. 3,290) for certification in the State of Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. Lt. Gov. Foley presented the certification to local leaders during the Cuming County Economic Development organization’s annual dinner on April 30th.
West Point is one of 39 communities to earn EDCC distinction in the program, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by the DED. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for their preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. As part of the certification process, qualifying communities must identify a well-defined program that actively engages with their 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. West Point earned EDCC status in January 2017.
“Nebraska’s EDCC program is one of only a few in the nation that recognizes communities for preparedness in economic development,” said Lt. Gov. Mike Foley. “By earning this certification, West Point leaders have shown that they have the ability to compete for new jobs and investments in today’s competitive market. This official certification has the potential to provide the community with another tool for economic growth, which has already had tremendous success in the recruitment and expansion of local businesses.”
Successful efforts in business, housing and workforce development have contributed to recent community growth. In 2016, collaboration between state and local leaders resulted in the recruitment of a pet treat manufacturer, which now occupies the once-vacant Land O’Frost Building. This project was a result of cooperation between the City of West Point, Cuming County Economic Development (CCED), the State of Nebraska and DED, Northeast Nebraska Development District, and F&M Bank.
“Successful leaders in communities like West Point understand that business recruitment plays a key role in Nebraska’s overall economic growth,” Nebraska Diplomats President Jane McDaniel said. “Growing partnerships between the city, county and state have increased businesses and jobs, and also built great momentum for future development in West Point.”
Expanding relationships with local educational leaders continue to create opportunities in workforce recruitment. Through a partnership with CCED, Northeast Community College created a “Manufacturing Bootcamp,” which provides basic workforce readiness skills for locals entering the workforce. The program builds on tools and techniques related to quality production, customer service, and safety in manufacturing facilities. Graduates of the program also have the ability to connect with area business leaders through interviews and skills training, which is designed to add to the community’s talented labor pool.
“As our local leaders continue to grow this community’s business and industry sectors, we look forward to building new success stories by being a newly-certified EDCC,” said West Point Mayor, Marlene Johnson. “The City of West Point is proud to join a distinguished group of EDCC’s in Nebraska.”
Community leaders continue to explore programs to improve commercial and residential areas through housing and business improvement efforts. West Point’s City Administrator is actively working with housing developers to grow potential buyers’ interest in 66 available lots within the city’s limits. Last year, the Nielsen Foundation awarded CCED with a $75,000 Existing Business Improvement Grant, which provided façade improvements in 22 West Point businesses. In addition, CCED collaborated with Burt County Economic Development to assist in West Point’s demolition program, which resulted in a $150,000 residential demolition grant and a $255,000 commercial demolition grant.
Mayor Johnson appreciates West Point’s continued potential for community growth and improvement through the EDCC program.
“The EDCC certification process provided our leaders with new opportunities to create strategic plans for development and recruitment, which will now serve as an additional tool to attract new businesses, job seekers and West Point alumni to northeast Nebraska,” Mayor Johnson said. “This designation showcases West Point as a welcoming community to businesses and industries, and as a city that works together to continually improve our way of life.”