Projects across Lincoln targeting such concerns as housing, employment and recreation have gotten a huge boost from a program administered by the State of Nebraska.
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has awarded a total of $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to eight projects within Qualified Census Tracts in the City of Lincoln. The QCT Recovery Grant Program-Lincoln was created under LB 1024 (2022) to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
“Lincoln is experiencing tremendous growth, and DED is excited to see progress on revitalization projects across the city,” said DED Director K.C. Belitz. “Thank you to city leaders and community partners for working closely with our agency to maximize the impact of the QCT recovery program. These funds are investing in Nebraska’s youth, growing the local workforce, developing affordable homes, and doing much more to enhance quality of life in our capital city.”
The $2.125 million the City of Lincoln received for its South Haymarket Park project “is just a game changer for us,” said Maggie Stuckey-Ross, director of Lincoln’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The park, which will sit on about seven acres south of Lincoln’s Haymarket District, formerly was used as a scrap-metal collection site. The land was cleaned up about 10 years ago and is being transformed into a $16 million park. It will include a playground, a dog park, a skate park, an interactive water feature and green space. A commuter trail being built through the park will connect to a trail system that will stretch south all the way to Marysville, Kansas, Stuckey-Ross said.
“We already are seeing the impact of the park announcement on development,” said Stuckey-Ross. “There’s a lot of opportunity for redevelopment along the edges, and we’re certainly seeing interest that wasn’t there before, [when the land was a] remediated field of weeds along a railroad track.”
Pacific Engineering Inc. is building portable workforce training centers to teach technical skills that will help students secure high-paying jobs as production technicians with manufacturers. The training pods will be set up at high schools, community colleges and community centers. Dexter Myers, PEI’s senior vice president, said the $1.25 million from the State will enable the company to operate the portable training centers—equipped with state-of-the-art technology—for a 24-month period. “We’ll be able to build the pods, which we’re doing now, and pay for the instructors and develop the curriculum,” Myers said.
The nonprofit organization Rabble Mill will use the $1 million it received from the State to help fund a program for 18- to 24-year-olds who aren’t enrolled in school, said Christina Oldfather, Rabble Mill’s workforce development director. “We give them all of the tools and the skills and the relationships that they need” to go on to college, get a job or start a business, she said.
The program, which starts in October 2023 and runs through May 2024, will serve about 30 young people. Participants first visit a variety of businesses and talk to industry professionals about what sorts of jobs are available. The second phase of the program encourages participants to make plans for their next three to five years through a Rabble Mill course called Design Your Life. The third phase includes learning modules in pathways such as photo/video, graphic design, music and entrepreneurship. Participants also can take courses with Rabble Mill partners to gain skills such as web development or drone piloting. The coursework is followed by a capstone project in which participants are paired with a mentor. The final phase is an internship that allows participants to gain on-the-job experience.
Other recipients through the QCT Recovery Grant Program-Lincoln include:
- Center for People in Need – $1 million
- Clinic With a Heart – $2 million
- Downtown Lincoln Association – $1.25 million
- gener8tor – $375,000
- Neighborhoods, Inc., DBA NeighborWorks Lincoln – $1 million