The annual strategic Planning Meeting was held at the Pender Community Fire Hall meeting room on February 21, 2017. There were 15 community members in attendance, with the meeting being facilitated by Mandy Hansen from NMPP. The majority of the time we discussed housing concerns and issues with housing in the community. Mandy has updated the notes from this meeting and data was distributed to the Board and all members present.
**UPDATE**The Lower Elkhorn NRD grant for toddler equipment for the City Park was submitted prior to the deadline in early March. The equipment they are hoping to have placed will cost over $40,000. The grant could assist with a $10,000 maximum award. This grant was awarded for $10,000.
The Thurston County Law Enforcement Center landscaping grant is under way. Building construction is moving along as planned with opening date scheduled for August 2017. The Green Team met on March 13th to review the drawings and plans for the landscaping area. Planting plans are moving forward. This grant will include many hours of local sweat equity. We should be ready to start moving dirt and composting in mid-late August. Volunteers should contact Diann Ballard if interested in assisting.
**UPDATE**The PCD, Inc. Board and the Village Council Board both voted to move forward with the revised application for Down Town Revitalization. The application had to be completely updated from the prior year submission. We revised the commerce area, reviewed all empty buildings, compiled updated data on Palace Lofts, Thurston County Law Enforcement Center, Logan Valley Cottages, Towne Centre Apartments, Cross Roads Lodge, Rosey’s Mexican Restaurant, the old Daum Building, etc. This grant was submitted the end of March. The planning grant of $30,000 was awarded.
**UPDATE**A new grant will be submitted to the Gardner Foundation for assistance with the Pender Community Center. This grant is requesting $100,000 to be used in any number of areas that may spark the interest of the Foundation. This grant will be submitted in early April. This grant was submitted and denied.
The Thurston County Tourism Committee has been busy. We have over $6,000 in funds to be distributed. I have forwarded grant applications; recruited replacement members; work with the County Board to appoint this replacement; promoted the grants; and worked with Committee members. We are hopeful to get more applications coming in to utilize these funds.
Research assistance was provided to the Thurston County Board to determine what is available for grant assistance for equipment for the new Law Enforcement Center.Throughout the month of July, Diann worked extensively on compiling the Business Retention and Expansion survey data and scheduling appointments. Deb Eggelston and Kelly Gewecke from DED and Mandi Hansen from NMPP were all in town on July 31 and August 1 to assist with the 22 scheduled visits. All data that was collected will be compiled by DED and a report will be sent to me when available. I will share this data with the Board and area businesses.
The first “Shop Local” Event occurred on September 7th. We had nine local businesses participate. Three businesses hosted home based businesses and all businesses were open from 5:00pm – 8:00pm. I visited most of the businesses during the event and they all had a steady stream of customers. I spoke with each of the businesses afterwards, and all but the Thriftique will be participating in the October event on the 5th. We will do this again in November the evening of the pancake supper hosted by the Chamber.
The Summer Rec group is researching the idea to get a new ball field. They contacted me regarding writing grants. I did some research for them on the Nebraska Game & Parks grant. This is a nice grant but a large project, it required Environmental studies, architectural drawings, and a developer – none of which they had in place and the grant was due the first week in October. They may still work on this for a future grant – they are on an annual award cycle. The second grant was from the College World Series. I completed and submitted this grant for them for fencing in the dugout areas and a new back stop at Heyne Field. The grant request was for $10,000 and awards will be announced in January.
Diann continues to work with Mandi Hansen from NMPP. Their most recent program has been LED lighting for businesses. However, some power companies sometimes will do a programmable thermostat program, to assist with energy consumption during peak hours and also to reduce consumer’s energy bill. I checked into this with the Mandi and this is not a program that they have done in the past. She will check to see if this can be something that is done in the future.
Early in the year, Pender Economic Development (PED) coordinator Diann Ballard collaborated with Northeast Nebraska Economic Development for the Village of Thurston to see if they could apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist in the village’s annexation process. The costs of this project were expected to be in the arena of $20,000, and the assistance of CDBG funds would pay for more than half of those expenses.
The new townhomes, Logan Valley Cottages (LVC), were completed and possession was finalized with ownership passing to Pender Community Development (PCD) in late January. Nikki Ferraro of rural Pender was hired as the property manager for LVC, as well as the Towne Centre Apartments, effective Feb. 1. She currently works with existing and potential tenants and all related governmental entities.
PCD agreed to accept and possess ownership of the Pender Community Center project at its February meeting. Soon after, the bid letting was released for this project.
In mid-spring, work continued on a Downtown Revitalization Grant, which was submitted to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development on May 26. This is a planning grant that will assist the Pender community in identifying needs in the village’s general commerce area (Main Street). These needs then become the focus of a follow-up grant.
Pender Community Development has updated its Pender brochures that are available for local events and visitors to the Pender-Thurston area. The brochures highlight area businesses, attractions and the community. Those who would like to utilize these brochures to assist with promoting a local event may contact Ballard at 402-922-1652 or email@example.com.
Ballard worked with Susan Strahm and Pender Times publisher Jason Sturek to have the Pender-Thurston website feature publications/promotions for the Barn Quilt Tour. A video slideshow was created with a majority of the barn quilts being showcased. To view the video, go online to penderthurston.com.
Ballard also assisted with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Entrepreneur Camp held in Pender in late June. The camp allowed youngsters to develop an entrepreneurial idea, create a product and then sell the product. After they made their sales, they reviewed their outcomes and determined profits and losses. The camp was hosted by Pender Public Schools with eight participants.
PCD is currently assisting in the writing of a grant for the Thurston County Law Enforcement Center. The funds, if awarded, will be used to complete landscaping for the facility upon building completion.
Pender Economic Development Coordinator Diann Ballard is working with the Village of Thurston and the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District to determine if Thurston could be eligible for a Community Development Block Grant. The Village of Thurston would like to annex several areas of its community into the village to increase tax revenues. This process costs nearly $20,000. To begin the process for a CDBG grant, a ‘low to moderate’ income survey has been completed with over 53 percent of the village residents meeting the required guidelines. The grant writing process will start next. If the process is successful, the village hopes to receive 65 percent of the required cost via this grant.
Ballard is also worked with Blue Ox, Blu Jet and Logan Valley Sales on hosting a Manufacturing Day in October. They secured the date, advertising and contacted six area schools to try to recruit students to see what the new manufacturing processes have to offer.
When the lodging tax was passed back in 2013, it provided a manner to generate funds to promote tourism in Thurston County. To date, PED has received over $3,000 from these revenues. The Tourism Committee has met and developed a grant application that was approved by the Thurston County Board and planned to advertise for applicants in October.
Pender Community Development provided a letter of support for the ReVision process. The group is submitting for a federal grant, “Pathways 2 Tomorrow,” for future educational monies for rural schools.
The Thurston County Law Enforcement Center landscaping grant was submitted to the Nebraska Arboretum recently. They have contacted the grant representative, Leonard Peters, and requested a site visit to review the project and area support. Peters is working on getting this set up. This is a great sign that it has a high potential to be funded.
Manufacturing Day was held on Oct. 7. There were three local employers who participated with tours and snacks for the general public. The number of folks who took advantage of this opportunity was significantly less than in prior years, but there were students from an area school (Allen) that were able to take part in the Blue Ox tour.
Advertising for grants utilizing the lodging tax dollars was published in the The Pender Times and The Winnebago News in October. These publications will hopefully drive up interest in promoting tourism within our county. The Tourism Committee meets in January to review any/all applications.
The Thurston County Law Enforcement Center landscaping grant site visit was successful, and we were awarded this grant. We are currently working as part of the Green Team to implement the grant and have a design and layout completed. Leonard Peters is the coordinator of this grant and will be completing the bulk of the work for the county.
Diann continues to work with Jan at NENED on the Thurston annexation process. We received the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $30,000 and the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority Grant (NIFA) for $6,750 to offset costs for the comprehensive plan, housing study, surveying costs, zoning and grant administration.
PCD, Inc. worked closely with Melissa Kelly at Pender Community Hospital to help bring eye care services to Pender. Dr. Brandon Ridder now works out of the Pender Community Hospital at least one day a week.
The Leadership Certified Community Application was submitted in February for our community. We were selected for this designation and will now be eligible for Down Town Revitalization Grants in the future though the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. This grant work will begin in the fall of 2015 for the 2016 grant application.
Pender Community Development, Inc. has been instrumental in bringing together local investors to build a new 10 bed motel in Pender. Aschoff Construction were the contractors on this facility which opened its doors on June 26. There is a small amount of landscaping to be completed in the near future, but the motel is open for business.
Pender Community Development has been working with area developers to create a new housing addition on the north side of town for market rate housing. The developers have purchased the land and are working on engineering and infrastructure to enable them to break ground on these homes this summer. The addition will be called “Northview Estates” and will house up to 18 additional homes for our residents.
PCD, Inc. continues to work with the Thurston County Jail Committee to pursue placing the new “Law Enforcement Center and Jail” in Pender. The special election was successful in passing the bond issuance. PED/PCD Representatives will continue to work on this project which will bring at least five new full time jobs to our community.
PCD, Inc. Coordinator Diann Ballard assisted with the “Connecting the Dots” seminar held at the Pender Public School on April 15. This was a career workshop for freshmen and sophomores to assist in determining what they would like to do after high school. Throughout the morning Diann assisted with career opportunities and after lunch she spoke about all of the opportunities available in the Pender area.
Ground has been broken on both housing complexes on McCabe Street and on Ivan Street. These will be the five town homes built with the assistance of DED Trust Fund Grant monies awarded late last year. Once completed, there will be a duplex on Ivan Street and a triplex on McCabe Street. These will be 2 bedroom apartments with a single car garage and about 1,300 square foot of living space.
PCD, Inc. Coordinator Diann Ballard is working with representatives from Pioneer Senior Center to find grants for major improvements needed at the center.
On June 24, Pender participated the Northeast Nebraska Housing Tour. This tour was sponsored by Stronger Economies Together and hosted by the Wayne, Wakefield, and Pender communities. We began the tour with lunch at the Max in Wayne. We then viewed the new housing development in Wakefield and looked at their infill duplexes. From there, we came to Pender and looked at the DED apartments, Northview Estates site, Countryside Addition and the new motel. We then headed to Wayne and saw the Benscooter Addition on the east side of town, infill housing and also the housing development on the west side of town. There were about 35 people on the tour.
PED assisted with the raft float on August 22, 2015; when approximately 15 area folks joined a representative from Nebraskland Magazine for an early morning rafting trip down the Logan Creek. The trip began in Pender at the canoe access point on the East side of town and ended at the Bancroft access point just north of Ru-de’s Mini Mart.
ED Coordinator Diann Ballard worked with the Chamber to bring Red Carpet Training to Pender on September 30th. Red Carpet Training is a Customer Service training targeting retail businesses to improve tourism throughout the community. We had 24 attendees representing 10 area companies present for the two trainings that were held at the Fire Hall. These trainings were free to all area businesses compliments of the Pender Thurston Chamber of Commerce.
PED/PCD Representatives and Coordinator continue to work on area housing issues with the completion of Logan Valley Cottages coming in the next few months.
Work is beginning on the Down Town Revitalization planning grant that will be submitted next spring for a study of the Main Street/Down town area.
Businesses are being surveyed regarding training needs in a partnership effort between Pender Community Development and Northeast Community College, to determine the need for Training Grants.
PCD, Inc. representative Diann Ballard worked with Susan Strahm of the Beautification Committee on the Passport Program application. The application would place the Barn Quilt Tour on the Nebraska Tourism Passport Program for 2016. We completed the requested data as well as a one-page insert of things to do in Pender. Additionally, we worked with Jason Sturek to ensure that the Passport data can be added to the website if we are selected as a tourist attraction for the program. Breitbarth One Stop will be the stamping location if we are selected.
The Towne Centre Apartments project was finalized and Pender Community Development, Inc. is now the owner and manager of this housing complex.
Pender Community Development, Inc. worked with Loess Hills RC&D to host the scrap electronics collection held here in Pender on November 7.
Downtown Revitalization Planning is proceeding. 60 businesses were surveyed regarding the needs and wants for our community. We have 9 volunteers to write letters of support for the grant application. The application is not due until May 2016.
Elizabeth Chase from the Nebraska Main Street Network was here on January 13th to discuss Main Street Revitalization. There were 22 people in attendance to learn about her program. The associate members of the Nebraska Main Street program are given guidance to plan and organize their community to sustain long-term revitalization activities in their downtown. Program entry begins annually in June; this is a low cost option for assistance in downtown revitalization.
PCD representatives working in conjunction with NENEDD created and submitted proposals for the new Thurston County Law Enforcement Center to be located in the Village of Pender. Proposals were submitted in February and again in August – and will likely be revisited in 2015.
PCD Coordinator, Diann Ballard worked with Sonya Kelly to secure the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Community Facilities grant in the amount of $375,000, to be used for the new Community Center.
PCD completed a ‘Serve Nebraska’ application nominating The Main Street Thriftique for a Community Service Award. Unfortunately, due to the short length of time they have been in business they did not receive this award.
PCD Coordinator, Diann Ballard completed a grant to Lower Elkhorn NRD for the renovations of the bathrooms and handicap accessibility of the City Park. The grant was awarded for nearly $25,000.
Pender was host to the SET meeting for April. ‘Stronger Communities Together’ is a grant funded project for Northeast Nebraska. We had 35 people present for the meeting with a tour of Blue Ox after the meeting.
On April 1st, Diann hosted 10 women from the NMPP Conference to tour local businesses. These ladies were from all over the state of Nebraska. They toured the Main Street Thriftique; Main Street Metal; Puckett Florist; and enjoyed a demonstration at Paper-n-Glass by Fuzz Hansen.
“Promoting Pender” was held on June 6th and 7th in conjunction with the area garage sales. We had 20 businesses signed up to participate that provided data to be distributed to area visitors. Area volunteers manned the distribution shack and handed out packets to interested parties.
PED, Inc. worked with the Pender Thurston Chamber on a pilot program to improve business signage – they offered a $500 grant for any business that would like to improve their signage. Pender Vet Clinic was selected for the grant and their new sign is in place.
PCD, Inc. was selected for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Housing grant in excess of $730,000 to assist in building 5 new apartments in our community. These apartments will be called “Logan Valley Cottages”.
A small group of volunteers was formed to work with Diann on the Down Town Revitalization project. We have met with NENEDD and developed our plan going forward to apply for a Leadership Community Designation. Once a community has completed these items and is awarded this designation, they can then apply for DED grants for Downtown Revitalization.
The last week of October Lori Shaal and Sheryl Hiatt from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Corrinne Pedersen from Nebraska Municipal Power Pool were in town to assist with Business Retention and Expansion Surveys. We visited 21 companies and completed surveys on what the businesses foresee in their future. This data is compiled by an intern at the Nebraska DED office and will be made into a condensed report used for economic development.
PCD, Inc. continues to work with Toni Tauber of Cornerstone Associates and Walter Aschoff of Aschoff Construction on building a new motel. The goal is to have a new motel open by mid-summer 2015.
A Community Attitude Survey was completed as part of the Leadership Certified Community Application. We had 140 people complete the survey with ideas of improving our community.
We held a Strategic Planning Session for the Community on December 11th at the Fire Hall with nearly 20 people present. Holly King gave an update on the Chamber; Bill Newton updated the TIF progress; and Melissa Kelly gave an update on the Community Center. Alyssa from NENEDD summarized the survey and the major areas of concern according to the citizen input. Corrinne Pedersen was the facilitator. All of this data is essential to our Leadership Certified Community Application.
We have received notification of Release of Funds from DED on the Logan Valley Cottages; the five new apartments to be built in Pender. Part of the land needed has been acquired and the bidding process has begun.
PED assisted area businesses in working with NIFA (Nebraska Investment Finance Authority) to secure asset modernization grants for their facilities. These dollars were used to purchase new/used equipment to improve production.
PED hosted an informational meeting about procuring government contracts. Speaker Andy Alexander from NBDC (Nebraska Business Development Center) was in town on May 3, 2013 to assist area businesses with their needs.
PED, Inc. in collaboration with UNL Extension hosted a Makin’ Money Camp on June 11 & 12 at Pender Public School. We had 17 children present from towns including: Pender, Thurston, Emerson, Waterbury, Belden, Wayne, and Laurel. This was a basic entrepreneur camp provided at no cost to the children.
Steve Peregrine and Elizabeth Fimbres from Nebraska Investment Finance Authority (NIFA) came to town to do a “NIFA First Friday” luncheon on June 20th at the Fire Hall. There were 24 people attending to listen to various speakers about housing and housing assistance.
While not a direct result of PED's efforts, we are pleased to welcome a new business to our community, Main Street Thriftique, perhaps as a result of PED's overall city growth and improvement mission.
The Redevelopment Plan of the blighted area in the community of Pender was approved at the public meeting on July 8th. With this approval, we now have in place a bucket TIF that can capture taxes for the 12 properties that were built in 2012. These tax dollars can be used for housing developments and housing improvements.
A redesigned “Pender” brochure has been completed. These are used extensively throughout the community for events; recruitment; new hires; tourism; and public information.
Pender is taking part in the “Nebraska Broadband Initiative”. This a program funded through a grant that will review ways that broadband services can be improved throughout the State. Diann Ballard, PED, Inc. Coordinator has agreed to work with local businesses to promote this program in our area.
The Thurston County Board of Supervisors voted at a public meeting on September 16th to pass a 4% Lodging Tax for the County. These dollars will be used for tourism promotion in our county.
National Manufacturers Day was held on October 4th. Four area manufacturers: Blue Ox; Thurston Manufacturing; Wenke Manufacturing and Logan Valley Sales offered tours for the public.
“Welcome Packets” have been created for newcomers to the Pender area. We have compiled data about area groups; activities; services; and connections for people that are new to the area. These are available at the City Office and at Pender Public School.
In February, PED hosted Nebraska attorney Michael Bacon to speak on Tax Increment Financing – educating our community leaders on TIF.
PED facilitated the transfer of the former Hospital to Golden-Rod Hills currently known as NENCAP – bringing approximately 50 new jobs into our community in early March.
PED Coordinator, Diann Ballard worked with Tom Perez on the submission of a FEMA grant for a new warning siren to be placed within our city limits – securing the safety of our citizens and saving our Community $15,000 on the equipment.
PED Coordinator, Diann Ballard completed and submitted three training grants for the Pender Volunteer Fire Department. Educating our volunteers and saving our Community nearly $500 on training expenses.
PED sponsored an informational meeting with the Nebraska Manufacturers Extension Program to bring data about grants available for them to be ISO 9001 Certified – two employers accepted the challenge and utilized the programs saving them collaboratively nearly $10,000.
We worked with Housing.NE.gov to promote housing within our community on their website – this is a free service sponsored by NIFA in Nebraska. This service assist people in finding places to live or landlords to find eligible tenants.
PED, Inc. in collaboration with Pender State Bank and Charter West National Bank hosted a Makin’ Money Camp on June 13 & 14 at Pender Public School. We had 22 children present from towns including: Pender, Thurston, Emerson, Waterbury, Belden, and Randolph. This was a basic entrepreneur camp provided at no cost to the children.
We worked with area groups and the Village to find better ways to make our community greener – ultimately bringing the recycling barrels to Pender to encourage recycling of much of our weekly trash.
We set up a Face Book page to communicate via social media.
PED, Inc. worked with the Chamber of Commerce to develop a new Pender/Thurston Businesses brochure for use in the marketing of our area at events and promotions.
PED, Inc. established Pender Community Development, Inc. a non-profit entity to have a primary focus on housing for our Community. PCD, Inc. was granted their 501c3 status by the IRS in August.
In collaboration with the Chamber we hosted the Career Fair held in October at Pender Public Schools; bringing more than 70 applicants to town to fill local vacancies.
While not a direct result of PED's efforts, we are pleased to welcome a new Cubby's to our community, perhaps as a result of PED's overall city growth and improvement mission.
A Redevelopment Study was completed to utilize TIF in our Community for the promotion of housing and business development.