Community Economic Development

woman opens business

copyright: piksel / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

If your community is looking for the next step in growing local business, that’s where we come in.

The Community Economic Development team helps you see where your community is at and where you can go. From defining and creating an ecosystem where entrepreneurs thrive, to providing research data to create and implement actions that build businesses, we help you magnify the qualities that make your community unique.

revitalized playground in plainview

How Communities Benefit

Each community’s path to economic development is unique. There’s no “one size fits all” approach. However, from grants to revolving loan funds to entrepreneurship classes to new businesses, communities benefit from our programs by bringing economic growth and stability to their residents. By helping communities help themselves, communities build a foundation for long-term sustainability and become a place where people choose to come, stay and live.

downtown plainview

Plainview Case Study

Plainview's Benefit Summary

  • Learning what new residents are looking for as they relocate to a rural community.
  • Discovering often overlooked local assets that attract potential new community members.
  • Using positive conversations to begin or expand community marketing.
  • Creating a welcoming spirit needed to attract newcomers.
  • Building and implementing a marketing action plan.
downtown plainview

Three years ago, Plainview’s Locust Street housed a lot of dark windows and empty storefronts.

After Susan Norris, director of Pierce County Economic Development, teamed up with the Community Economic Development team, things changed quickly. Through the Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process (ECAP) program, Norris and Team help Plainview’s residents identify a sense of community space, community vision, culture, entrepreneurial and educational support, and more.

Because ECAP stems from a community’s vision, “it’s an organic process,” Norris said. “It gives a voice to the community, and every community is different.”

After a series of surveys and town hall meetings, Norris had a mission statement, a to-do list of projects and focus groups designated to said projects.

“Plainview wrote a lot of grants using our survey,” said Marilyn Schlake, CED Team Lead.

“They created a revolving loan fund for small businesses, implemented youth entrepreneurship classes, created community tax investments for a housing division, and applied for state and USDA rural development monies.”

Plainview was the first city in Nebraska to earn the $400,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Intermediary Re-lending Program grant for new businesses. To date, Plainview has welcomed 19 new businesses and created 75 jobs. When you walk down Locust Street now, you’ll see new restaurants, a fitness facility, a pharmacy, a master woodworker’s workshop, medical clinics, a dental office, and new hair salon, and a bar and grill.

“This is the trickle-down effect of doing ECAP,” Norris said. “Activity breeds activity. Once you get going, people come along.”

I was trying to figure out what Plainview wanted and needed. ECAP was the road map to figuring that out. It gives a voice to the community.

Susan Norris, Executive Director, Pierce County & Plainview Economic Development

Programs & Resources

Entrepreneurial Communities

The E-Communities Program works with communities in Nebraska to focus on entrepreneur-led economic development.

Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process

ECAP helps communities identify priorities and actions for a thriving future.

Latino Small Business Program

The Latino Small Business Program provides one-on-one assistance and free consultation for Latino entrepreneurs or current business owners.

Nebraska Cooperative Development Center

NCDC assists groups and communities who are exploring or have formed a cooperative business.

SourceLink Nebraska

SourceLink Nebraska is an online database that connects entrepreneurs and businesses to nearby resources.

Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities Conference

Our signature conference showcases topics, case studies, and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and economic developers.

Economy & Entrepreneurship Team Members

Cooperative Development Specialist
Business Coach Tri-Cities Region
Business Coach Greater Columbus Region
SourceLink Nebraska Network Navigator
Business Coach Sandhills Region
Extension Educator Latino Business Program
SourceLink Nebraska Network Builder
Extension Educator Northeast Region
Extension Educator Northwest Region
Extension Educator Cooperative Develoment
Team Leader
Extension Educator North Central Region
Extension Educator South Central Region
Team Leader
Extension Educator Statewide
Extension Educator Southeast Region