Funds sought for community development program

The Appropriations Committee heard testimony March 11 on a bill that would provide funding for a downtown community development program.

LB263, introduced by Wahoo Sen. Jerry Johnson, would appropriate $100,000 in general funds in fiscal year 2015-16 and FY2016-17 to the Nebraska State Historical Society to provide funding for the Nebraska Main Street Program.

Johnson said the funds would help the program serve additional communities and make it easier to obtain private dollars. Fundraising efforts have been hindered by uncertainty regarding the level of state funding for the program, he said.

“We can only operate at a part-time basis,” Johnson said, “so we’re limited in the communities that we can serve.”

Bob Puschendorf, associate director of the Nebraska State Historical Society, testified in favor of the bill. Calling the Nebraska Main Street Program the only comprehensive program for downtown revitalization in the state, he said it brings together a coalition of state agencies to support community development across Nebraska.

Since 1994, he said, the program has resulted in $125 million in building improvements and new construction, 697 new businesses and 253 public improvement projects.

“A small investment in this program yields great results,” Puschendorf said.

No opposition testimony was given and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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