The city of Hastings was honored during the Hastings City Council meeting Monday for the community’s continued dedication to economic development.

Dave Rippe, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development; and Kelly Gewecke, business development consultant for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development were on hand at Monday’s meeting to present Hastings Economic Development Corp. with a certificate recognizing the city’s recertification as an economic development certified community in Nebraska.

“Congratulations on a job well done,” Rippe said.

Hastings is one of 40 communities to earn certification in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by the Department of Economic Development. State officials established the program in 2005 to recognize communities for preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses.

Hastings received its original certification in August 2008 and recertification in September 2013 and May 2019.

Over the last five years, HEDC leaders have prioritized efforts to build new opportunities within the Hastings workforce. Rippe is a former HEDC executive director.

A 2016 talent initiative connects business leaders to area high school and college students in order to attract, retain and develop youth for careers in the community’s top industries.

Success within the initiative led to the creation of Inspired by Hastings, designed to foster employer-student relationships and encourage community involvement.

Inspired by Hastings also establishes support for the city’s growing entrepreneurial network. Hastings has welcomed a number of startup businesses over the past several years, including Pacha Soap, First Street Brewing Co. and Drake Tool and Design.

The group hosts events to provide guidance and support for new entrepreneurs from existing startup business creators.

In addition to being a recipient of the state’s developing youth talent initiative grant, Rippe also cited the North Park Commons development and downtown revitalization grants through the Community Redevelopment Authority as evidence of Hastings’ commitment to economic development.

“Time after time Hastings has exhibited a strong propensity to collaborate across sectors and to prepare itself for future growth,” Rippe said.

In other business, the Council:

— Unanimously approved Ordinance 4595 amending the city code regarding lot size and side yard setbacks applicable to R-3 multiple family zoning. This text amendment is intended to facilitate the elimination of the R-5 zoning district by incorporating the key lot size limitations within the existing R-3 district. The current R-3 lot size minimum is 6,000 square feet with a minimum lot width of 50 feet. The proposed R-3 minimum is 4,500 square feet with a minimum lot width of 45 feet. Council members also unanimously suspended the requirement to read an ordinance three times to pass it.

— Unanimously approved Ordinance 4597 amending the zoning district map to change the zoning for 736 S. Chicago Ave. from R-1 Single Family Residential to R-3 Multiple Family Residential. Council members also unanimously suspended the requirement to read an ordinance three times to pass it.

— Unanimously approved a $131,951.37 contract with Windstream Communications to upgrade technology in the 911 Center and connect the Hastings 911 Center to the South East Region 911 Cooperative Group.

— Was advised the city received no objections to a street improvement district on Laux Drive.

— Unanimously approved moving the city council work session from Monday Aug. 5 to Monday Aug. 19 to give the finance department additional time to prepare the budget.

— Unanimously approved Ordinance 4596 to enact an update to the official city code to provide a rate rider for customers participating in the Hastings community solar project.


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