KEARNEY, Neb. — In the weeks since advancing to the America’s Best Communities quarterfinals, local leaders have begun work developing a comprehensive strategy to revitalize the local economy and further enhance quality of life. As one of just 50 communities recognized in this nationwide campaign, Kearney is also striving to capitalize on this opportunity to share the community’s unique story and promote local assets to help attract visitors, as well as potential employers, from across the country.

Lt. Governor Mike Foley addresses Team Kearney at celebration dinner in August 2016.

Lt. Governor Mike Foley addresses Team Kearney at celebration dinner in August 2016.

America’s Best Communities — a $10 million competition, sponsored by Frontier Communications, DISH Network, CoBank and The Weather Channel, to revitalize small towns and cities — awarded Kearney $50,000 to devise a Community Revitalization Plan that will serve as a roadmap to a stronger community for generations to come.

Team Kearney has contracted with Miller & Associates Consulting and Engineers, P.C., and the University of Nebraska at Kearney to conduct key informant interviews and focus groups as part of the next phase of the competition. The input gathered from these sessions will be used to generate ideas for a community revitalization plan focused on affordable housing, public transportation, workforce development, and other issues that come up in the sessions.

Over 40 interviews with community stakeholders in business and industry, human services, health care, faith, education, government, arts and civic representatives have been completed. Team Kearney is moving in to the next phase of community input by hosting two town hall meetings.

Sunday, September 13, 7 – 8:30 pm at Holy Cross Lutheran Church (child care provided)
Tuesday, September 15, 8 – 9:30 am at City of Kearney Harmon Park Recreation Building

All attendees will receive a free America’s Best Community Kearney t-shirt. Complete a pre-order form BELOW to guarantee your free t-shirt.

John Puskar, Vice President of America's Best Community visits Kearney for the first time to congratulate volunteers.

John Puskar, Vice President of America’s Best Community visits Kearney for the first time to congratulate volunteers.

“Community input is vital in this next leg of the competition,” said Buffalo County Community Partners Executive Director Denise Zwiener. “Not only is community engagement a large portion of the judging criteria, but it’s also essential to building something unique to our community’s needs that’s also sustainable.”

“Stakeholder interviews have solidified our primary focus on skilled labor force and workforce shortage as primary areas in need of improvement. In order to produce a final community revitalization plan by the end of October we need input from community members. Help our team develop action steps to win $3 Million dollars for your community.” said Zwiener.

Kearney residents are encouraged to connect with Team Kearney through social media and in person. The team is providing updates and engaging with community members on Facebook at and on Twitter at The team is also putting together video pieces as part of the competition, and is asking for community input and assistance in developing those, as well.

America’s Best Communities is a multi-stage, three-year competition that is providing $4 million in seed money and other support to assist communities as they develop new economic growth strategies. The top three communities — those with the most innovative proposals being effectively implemented — will share a total of $6 million in prize money. The winning community will be awarded $3 million, with $2 million for second place and $1 million for third.

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