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Wood River Designated 'Leadership Certified Community'
Nebraska Ag Connection - 06/23/2016

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has designated Wood River (pop.1,468) as a Leadership Certified Community. DED Business Development Consultant, Kelly Gewecke, recognized village officials on Tuesday.

Wood River is the 13th community to qualify for DED's Leadership Certified Community (LCC) Program, created in 2011 to provide a solid framework for communities to identify capacity, stimulate focused planning, and utilize technology to provide a strong foundation to meet the challenges of the future.

Designated communities must demonstrate an understanding for and preparedness in strategic and community planning, as well as a readiness to develop technology and assist new and existing businesses to grow.

Qualifying communities earn designation in the program for five years and are required to update and maintain information and websites. Communities that are prepared for growth and awarded this designation may also receive "bonus points" when applying for grants sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

Efforts on Wood River's LCC application process were spearheaded by business leader Sara Arnett, city employees, and the Wood River Vision 20/20 Board. Community members created the board based on results from town hall meetings held in 2012, which served as a driving force behind local achievements, including completion of a Community Needs Assessment Program and an updated housing study and comprehensive plan. Over the past four years, the board also added new welcome signs and downtown landscaping.

Vision Board members include Board President Tyler Doane, Pam Kjar, Joyce Willoughby, Brian Hayes, Jason Rotter and Mayor Greg Cramer.

"The city greatly appreciates the Vision Board and Sara's hard work on the LCCP application," Mayor Cramer said. "Being recognized by this program is certainly another point of distinction for our great community."

Local leaders have welcomed the following recent additions and developments in Wood River:

-- Renovations to Maltman Memorial Library

-- The addition of Wood River Family Care, made possible by Mary Lanning Healthcare and the Wood River Economic Development Corporation

-- A new community building

-- A new walking path at Wood River Rural Schools

-- New "Lincoln Highway" designation and signage in the downtown area

Leaders from the city of Wood River, Vision 20/20 Board and the Wood River Area Housing and Economic Development Corporation are also working together to create continued economic growth in the area. Ongoing city projects include construction of a new swimming pool funded by a $5 million bond passed by voters in 2015, as well as infrastructure upgrades to a new Dollar General Store. Preparations within Wood River's industrial park are also underway in anticipation of the city's newest business, Midwest Soil Samplers. Vision 20/20 Board members are also pursuing funding from DED's Owner Occupied Rehabilitation Housing Grant program.

"The Leadership Certified Community status is an important step for Wood River," Doane said. "Through this designation, local leaders have shown state agencies and potential business developers that we have a progressive community focused on continuous improvement."

For information about the Leadership Certified Community Program, contact Kelly Gewecke at, 308-627-3151, or visit

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