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Work begins on development grant
July 11, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen - Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and Gering’s Downtown Revitalization Committee tour 10th Street as part of a grant application process.

The announcement from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) that Gering has been awarded a $30,000 grant for the first phase of its downtown revitalization program is only the first step in a process that must be completed by March 2014.

Rick Willis, marketing and research manager with Twin Cities Development, said Gering must now enter into a contract with the state and then start the request for proposals process.
The $30,000 grant has been awarded to hire a professional design expert to help work with the community on what downtown development would look like, once it’s completed.

“That request for proposals process involves public meetings to discuss what you want to see in the designer’s proposal once that person is hired,” Willis said. “The Downtown Revitalization Committee will be a part of that process in discussing the best way of going forward.”

Once the designer is hired, that person will meet with the public and downtown business owners to formulate a long-range plan for the development of the downtown area.

All the documentation from the planning meetings, along with recommendations from the designer, must be submitted to DED by March 28, 2014. That process will also involve contract negotiations between DED and Gering for phase two of the grant.

Ideally, a $350,000 Community Development Block Grant will be awarded in April 2014 to implement the downtown revitalization plan from phase one. That phase must be completed within two years.

“The decision on the phase two funding is based on the content of the application and the potential for the plans,” Willis said. “Availability of funds is also a consideration, as DED has to receive funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”

The grants have been used by communities around the state to help revitalize their downtown areas, bringing in new businesses and tourism opportunities.
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