Meeting held for grant, business tips

A Community Development Block Grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for Downtown Revitalization in Hebron was on the agenda at a Sept. 16 meeting at the Stastny Community Center. The grant application for up to $400,000 in funds was due Sept. 15.

Approximately 13 businesses, citizens, Thayer County Health Services CEO Paul Edwards and two county commissioners, Dave Bruning and Dean Krueger, attended the meeting. Crystal Fangmeier of Southeast Community College Learning Center in Hebron was also there and spoke to the crowd on SCC’s opportunities for businesses. 

The city has secured matching funds for the grant of approximately $160,000 in commitments from LB840, area organizations and businesses.  

A pre-application process for revitalization funds was conducted, and 37 businesses responded amounting to more than $800,000 in projects. 

If Hebron is awarded the CDBG grant — the decision will come in November — there will be guidelines directing how funds may be spent. The Downtown Revitalization Committee members will oversee the applications and awards, and make recommendations to the city council.

There is a timeline attached to the grant funds. The funds will have been awarded by March and that’s when the city will begin approving projects, which must be completed by September of 2022. The city will have until November of 2022 to submit the required paperwork on the projects.

Some of the projects will take place in buildings that may need to be environmentally or structurally evaluated. In the city council’s Oct. 5 meeting, the council will discuss two new ordinances to address unfit and dangerous structures. 

Carley Bruning, the new director for Thayer County Economic Development Alliance also joined the meeting to talk business promotion in marketing and social media to reach larger audiences. 

“Before I came to Hebron, I was googling businesses and it was very difficult to find a lot of online presence,” she said. 

Bruning said people don’t have to be on every social media platform because different platforms are for a variety of target demographics. For example, Facebook hosts more women, ages 30 and up, and Twitter has more male subscribers. A younger demographic is on Instagram. 

“I’m looking forward to hosting workshops and webinars for businesses around the county and providing the tools those businesses are requesting,” Bruning said. She is working on a grant to help businesses gain an online presence, which is in its infancy stage. 

She said TCEDA hopes to partner with other organizations across the state, like GROW Nebraska; Rural Enterprise Assistance Project of the Center for Rural Affairs; and Hebron’s SCC Learning Center. 

Bruning encourages citizens of Thayer County to follow TCEDA on Facebook, where she posts continuous updates, and to become a part of her email address list for updates at director.tceda@gmail.com.  

“Instead of expecting just locals to shop here, reach outside of the county boundaries and start capturing dollars from outsiders,” Bruning said. “The trend is to shop from home right now. People want to access goods and services from their fingertips.”