"I've seen too many small towns die, and we don't want that to happen here," said Darlene Graf, Holdrege resident.
That is one of the goals that the RDG Planning and Design firm (RDGPD) will have to tackle; to keep Holdrege alive. RDGPD is the firm assigned to the revitalization project in Holdrege. This comes shortly after the City Council approved the process at its meeting on Tuesday. Officials do not have an exact plan of what is in store, but they already know who will be involved in the entire process.
"It's community driven. There will be community input sessions, surveys, and ways for community members to share their ideas for downtown," said Katie Madsen, executive director of the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce is serving as the lead agent on the project and will oversee the grant's two phases. The Phase I grant for $30,000 will just be used for the development of the plan. Now once this plan is approved next year in March, it will move into Phase II. And that phase will provide a grant of $350,000 to actually put the plan into action. Both Phase I and Phase II requires that the community match at least 25% of the project costs. The decision of where the money will come from has not been determined yet.
"Well, that's a part of the planning process...determining how our community will match the 25% of the project costs. So, it will depend on what project we choose and how much money that will cost," said Madsen.
Holdrege was one in four communities in Nebraska to receive funding this year. Hastings, McCook, and Grand Island also received funding. RDGPD is not responsible for the projects in those areas, but they were responsible for projects like downtown Kearney. No visual plans have been created yet for Holdrege, but officials have an idea of what the plan will entail.
"I imagine that it will be used specifically for things above ground as opposed to working on infrastructure. Some of the ideas identified in our grant application process were fixing some of the sidewalks, lighting, sod-improvements for businesses, parking, and potentially green-space downtown," said Madsen.
And some community members say the change would be welcomed.
"It wouldn't hurt, I guess. It's been the same for a few years," said Beverly White, Holdrege resident.