Kearney's Investments Set the Stage for Continued Growth

Kearney's Investments Set the Stage for Continued Growth Main Photo

2 May 2024


DED Director Belitz honors City of Kearney for recent accomplishments to grow Central Nebraska 

Efforts to welcome new industries and expand social opportunities in the city of Kearney (pop. 33,784) have earned recognition from the State of Nebraska. This week, the Nebraska Diplomats and the Department of Economic Development (DED) announced Kearney’s recertification in the state’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. DED Director KC Belitz joined the department’s Central Nebraska Development Consultant, Kelly Gewecke, in honoring local leaders on Monday, April 29th at the Development Council for Buffalo County’s annual membership meeting and awards luncheon, held at the Gail and Michael Yanney Pavilion in Kearney. 
The City of Kearney collaborated with the Development Council for Buffalo County (DCBC) to earn ongoing membership as an EDCC. Kearney is one of 41 active communities in the statewide program, which is sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. Nebraska leaders established the EDCC program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and expand existing businesses. Qualifying communities must identify a well-defined program that actively engages existing businesses to support an environment for economic growth. This includes documenting available sites and buildings and implementing strategic planning for new development. The City of Kearney first attained EDCC status in 2008 and earned program recertifications in 2013, 2018, and 2023.  

City and DCBC officials have been instrumental in the development of Kearney’s Patriot Park Industrial Site, which is located between Kearney’s E Expressway and Airport Road. Several businesses have established a presence at Patriot Park. DCBC anticipates the development of additional businesses at the site in 2024 and 2025. The project was a result of nearly $4.5 million in private investments. More than $10 million in local investments assisted in the completion of Kearney’s $100+ million Central Nebraska Veteran’s Home, which was completed in 2019 near Patriot Park.

DCBC has prioritized efforts to introduce students to Buffalo County career opportunities. Since 2018, the development corporation has created partnerships with the Kearney Community Learning Center (KCLC) and Sunrise Middle School to initiate business tours across the region. The monthly tours familiarize students with jobs in manufacturing, marketing and journalism, and business development. The partnership stemmed from an initial grant from the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Beyond School Bells program, which offers hands-on career development activities after school and during the summer months.

“Nebraska’s EDCC program celebrates business attraction and expansion efforts, and leaders in Kearney deserve recognition for strategic investments to develop Nebraska’s greatest resource—our people,” said DED Director K.C. Belitz. “Connecting young Nebraskans with business owners and entrepreneurs is an important step in empowering our future workforce leaders.”        

The City of Kearney recently began construction on the 209,000 square foot Kearney SportsPlex. Additionally, the City opened the Ernest Grundy Tennis Center in May 2022, which features six indoor courts. The center represents a unique partnership between the City of Kearney and University of Nebraska-Kearney. DED supported the tennis center project with an award from the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund.

“Community growth is not just about increasing in numbers, but about nurturing connections, fostering collaboration, and cultivating a shared sense of purpose that propels everyone forward together,” said Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse. “This growth brings employment opportunities, improves living standards, and creates a foundation for a thriving and resilient community. The partnership between the City of Kearney and the Development Council for Buffalo County furthers our shared mission of economic diversity and investing time and resources into economic development.”

In 2022, the City of Kearney began a $4.7 million improvement project at the Kearney Regional Airport. The terminal expansion increased the airport’s size to more than 11,000 square feet.

“Kearney will continue to grow, in every direction, and be one of the leading communities in Nebraska for growth by population, income, and new investment. Since 2009, we have seen more than $1 billion in new commercial investment alone,” said DCBC Executive Director Trevor Lee. “We are thankful for the work of DED and the Nebraska Diplomats, and we appreciate their recognition of our community. Kearney is proud to have a continued opportunity to grow as an EDCC.”

DCBC and city leaders have utilized state-administered grant programs for economic development efforts over the past several years, including Nebraska’s Site and Building Development Fund, the Rural Workforce Housing Fund, and the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The city also received assistance from the state’s Civic and Community Center Financing Fund, the Shovel-Ready grant program, and the Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance program.

For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or, or visit