All-America City Projects: Dakota County, Nebraska

We are sad to say that Dakota County won’t be attending the All-America City Awards in Kansas City because of a flooding situation back home.  Our best wishes go out to the people of Dakota County.  But you can read about their terrific community projects here.

Post-Secondary Educational Opportunities and Workforce Training

In Dakota County, only six percent of the population has an associate’s degree and only 13.5 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. The results of this study painted a very distressing picture for Dakota County and its residents: Although Dakota County was growing economically and demographically, postsecondary educational opportunities and workforce training had failed to keep pace. The rapidly-growing minority, first-generation and place-bound working adult population needed access to higher education, but limited access and availability of affordable post-secondary educational options had created an educational shortfall. In 2005, officials from Dakota County, South Sioux City, Wayne State College and Northeast Community College along with local businesses, and over 130 donors united together to overcome the counties post-secondary educational shortfalls and launched a campaign to build a new College Center that would offer “start-to-finish” degree programs including two-year, four-year, and graduate degrees, as well as customized workforce training programs. On March 14, 2011, the College Center, located in South Sioux City, Nebraska opened its doors to students, faculty and the public.

Roth Industrial Park

The “Roth Industrial Park” located in Dakota County, Nebraska has defied the global economic recession by emerging as one of the fastest growing industrial parks in the nation. After successfully securing the ground, community leaders ensured the site was “shovel-ready” by completing all road, rail, water, fiber, gas and electricity infrastructures. With these networks in place, community/county economic development officials began to aggressively market and promote the Roth Industrial Park. Five short years later, the Park has announced over $700 million in capital investment and the creation of 850 jobs in this agri-business and food processing hub of the Midwest. As the Roth Industrial Park adds businesses and capital investment, community and county leaders are working together to find additional acres to meet the growing demands for land in this rapidly expanding industrial park. As a result of their calculated efforts, this development is helping lead the region’s economic recovery.

The Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA

In 2005, the YMCA that served the region was in significant decline and was struggling to raise funds to build a new facility. Through innovative public/private, business and not-for-profit partnerships across multi-jurisdictional boundaries, a state-of-the-art $11 million facility was built and, in January 2008, The Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA opened its doors to the public. A school district that faced the closure of the pool used for all of its aquatic programs now has use of a top-of-the-line competitive pool and additional fitness resources previously unavailable for its kids. A county striving to provide more recreation and well-being for its residents now partners with the Y for wellness programming for its staff and families, management of a summer outdoor pool for the entire community, and operation of a 72-acre outdoor complex that provides outdoor recreation opportunities for thousands of youth. This youth driven project has resulted in greater health and activity opportunities for the entire community, especially impacting underserved youth through summer camps, day camps, youth fitness programs, youth sports, and facilities and programming specifically designed for youth and families.

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