New Economic Development Opportunities in Nebraska

    Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act

    The purpose of the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act is to support economically distressed rural areas of Nebraska through grants that will create community capacity to build and sustain programs to generate and retain wealth in the community and region. Specifically, the grants awarded will:

    • Provide education and technical assistance to energize small business development and entrepreneurship.
    • Provide technical assistance to facilitate small business transfer.
    • Build community business capacity and leadership programs.
    • Generate opportunities to attract and retain young people and families.
    • Provide education about philanthropy and intergenerational transfer of wealth.
    • Build community endowments to support these activities.
    • Establish community initiatives to attract new residents.
    • Planning grants up to $5,000 can be made directly to limited resource areas for the purpose of building collaboration and developing proposals.
    • Provide marketing assistance to communities to attract new residents from outside of the state of Nebraska. Marketing assistance may include the creation of/or improvement of web sites, creation and distribution of printed or electronic marketing materials, and programs which promote the community to new residents.

    The Role of the Department of Economic Development (DED)

    With assistance provided by the Rural Development Commission, the DED shall establish and administer a grant process to provide grants to local units of government that are collaborating on a project related to the purpose of the Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act with priority given to projects that best alleviate chronic economic distress. At least one of the partners must show chronic economic distress as indicated by:

    • An unemployment rate which exceeds the statewide average unemployment rate OR
    • A per capita income below the statewide average per capita income OR
    • Population loss over a twenty-year period.

    Grant Opportunities

    • Funded at $500,000 per fiscal year (increased from $250,000 by the 2007 Nebraska Unicameral).
    • Shall not exceed $75,000 per project, and recipients shall have 2 years to expend the grant funds.
    • Recipients shall provide a 50% cash match in money for grant funds; recipients in limited resource communities shall provide a 25% cash match.*
    • Grants shall be awarded directly to one of the units of government representing the collaborative project.

    This Act will terminate on January 1, 2011.

    * The 2007 Nebraska Unicameral removed language that previously required a 100% match. A list of limited resource communities is available from the Nebraska Rural Development Commission. There is no match requirement for planning grants awarded to limited resource communities.

    For information on applying for a Building Entrepreneurial Communities Act grant, contact Linda Fettig, Executive Director of the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, 308-749-2291 (phone)

    Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnerships Act

    The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Economic Development will establish a competitive grant process to provide grants to eligible entities directly addressing one or more of the purposes of this act. Priority shall be given to applicants that make the greatest contribution in increasing the number and quality of self-employment opportunities for farming or ranching operations.

    Grants, up to $75,000 annually, will be awarded for a one year period, though may be renewed for up to three years. The applicant must provide a 25 percent match. This program expires on December 31, 2010.


    • Support small enterprise formation in the ag sector of Nebraska's rural economy and the development of agricultural communities

    • Encourage collaboration between farming and ranching operations and businesses as well as communities and regions

    • Strengthen the value-added production industry by promoting strategic partnerships and networks through multi-group cooperation

    • Enhance income and opportunity for farming and ranching operations in Nebraska in order to stem the decline in their numbers

    • Increase the farming and ranching operations’ share of the food-system profit

    • Enhance opportunities for farming and ranching operations to participated in electronic commerce and new and emerging markets


    • Research

    • Market development

    • Feasibility and market studies, capitalization plans, and technical assistance

    • Community and multi community initiatives

    • Efforts to obtain start-up or working capital or other capital expenditures necessary for the development of the project

    • Education and training

    • Non-administrative business planning assistance

    • Development of cooperatives

    • Creation, retention, and transfer of value-added agricultural business initiatives in rural communities

    • Community-based, farmer or rancher-owned value-added initiatives

    Eligible Entities: communities, counties, agencies, educational institutions, economic development providers, nonprofit corporations, agricultural cooperatives, agricultural associations, agricultural marketing associations or entities, resource conservation organizations, development districts, and farming or ranching operations in collaborative arrangements with other operations, entities, or organizations.

    For information on applying for a value added grant, contact Linda Fettig, Executive Director of the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, 308-749-2291 (phone)

    Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act

    The Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit Act is administered by the Department of Revenue. The purpose of the program is to provide investment tax credits (equal to 20 percent of the new investment, with a $10,000 lifetime limit) to applicants for creating or expanding micro businesses that contribute to the revitalization of economically depressed areas through the creation of new or improved income, self-employment, or other new employment in the area.

    Micro businesses: any business employing five or fewer employees at the time of the application except for farm or livestock operations, unless the applicant has a family net worth of not more than $200,000 or the investment or employment is in the processing or marketing of agricultural products, aquaculture, agricultural tourism, or the production of fruits, herbs, tree products, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, organic crops, or nursery crops.

    New Investment: increase during the tax year in the applicant’s purchase/lease of buildings and depreciable personal property and/or the creation of new jobs or expenditures on advertising, legal or professional services, and non-vehicle repairs and maintenance. Those receiving benefits under the Employment and Investment Growth Act, the Employment Expansion and Investment Incentive Act, or Nebraska Advantage Act are ineligible.

    New Employment: the amount by which the total compensation plus the employer cost for health insurance for employees paid during the tax year to or for employees who are Nebraska residents increased from the prior tax year. New employment does not include: compensation to any employee that is in excess of 150% of Nebraska average weekly wage paid by all employers as reported by the Department of Labor.

    Distressed Area: a municipality, county, unincorporated area within a county, or census tract that has (a) an unemployment rate which exceeds the statewide average unemployment rate, (b) a per capita income below the statewide average per capita income, or (c) had a population decrease between the two most recent federal decennial censuses, a designated federal enterprise zone, or a census tract that based on the most recent federal decennial census date available has less than 80% or the statewide per capita income.

    Application: a description of the business; projected income and expenditures; the market to be served by the business and the way the expansion addresses the market; the amount of projected investment increase that would generate the credit; the projected improvement in income or creation of new self-employment or other jobs in the distressed area; the nature of the applicant’s engagement in the operation of the micro business (must be able to show personal involvement on a continuous basis in the daily management and operation of the business) or who will establish a micro business that they will actively operate in a distressed area . Once approved, applicants will be entitled to a refundable investment tax credit equal to 20% of the taxpayer’s new investment in the micro business during the tax year. The Department will authorize tentative investment tax credits to the applicant. Applications will be considered on a first come first served basis. This program will expire on January 1, 2011, and is limited to $2 million annually.

    Visit the Department of Revenue’s website, , to see if your business qualifies.

    Contact: Kim Preston,, Chuck Hassebrook,, or Jon Bailey, for more information.

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