The Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC) was one of 14 organizations to receive a grant award from a newly established state fund that aims to develop more rural workforce housing across Nebraska, GFDC announced yesterday.
The fund, known as the Rural Workforce Housing Investment Fund, was established through the passage of LB518. GFDC received $850,000 from the state program after raising more than $1 million locally for matching funds that were required for the application process, according to GFDC Executive Director Garry Clark.
“It’s a huge opportunity for us,” Clark said.
The state program was established to help rural communities fill housing needs across the state. When the grant application period began, GFDC applied, partially because it had just completed a housing study that demonstrated the need for housing in Dodge County and the city of Fremont.
The study showed, in part, the potential effects of an increase in population, brought on by economic development from projects like the new poultry plant being built by Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry. But it also showed the need for housing in general, Clark said.
“Even without the boost of (the poultry plant), for quite some time, the city of Fremont and Dodge County hadn’t been able to move the needle much as far as affordable housing, what we are deeming workforce housing now and just general regular market rate housing,” he said.
Clark said it was important for communities to develop housing housing at all levels is important to attracting a workforce.
“This is one of the tools that you have to have if you’re going to recruit and expand businesses,” Clark said.
The opportunity will create a “Dodge County loan fund for housing,” Clark said. GFDC, as part of the application process, has developed a list of projects that are underway now or slated for the future that are interested in applying for those funds.
“As soon as we receive these dollars for the state and then the dollars from our pledged local match, we will have the chance to initiate and roll out an application,” Clark said.
Among those who contributed to the local match were Fremont Beef, Lincoln Premium Poultry, the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, the City of Fremont, the City of Scribner, the Fremont Community Foundation, First National Bank and more.