Grow Grand Island Inc. (GGI) was formed in October 2016 following an extensive community visioning process. The primary purpose of forming such an organization was to encourage both collaboration and the leveraging of resources to carry out strategic plans. GGI’s mission statement says, “to cultivate bold ideas…through planning, partnering, and doing.” It has been seven years, how have we done?
Well, 26 projects have been initiated (excludes Conestoga Marketplace), with 20 of them completed and 6 of them in progress. These 26 projects total approximately $6.2M of investment, of which $2.2M was provided by GGI, and $4M from other funding sources. That is incredible leveraging of resources!
As a key community development partner with the City, GGI receives an annual allocation of Food & Beverage tax revenues. GGI also utilizes other funds from grants, private investment, and partnerships.
Much of GGI’s success is the result of collaboration and partnering. Our core partners (Chamber, Economic Development Corporation, and Tourism) meet weekly to share information and explore ways to work together and/or with others. In addition, our increased Legislative involvement has been key to defining the highest priorities and then pursuing them with unity.
Many partnerships have formed and flourished as GGI projects and initiatives have played out. And much happens outside of GGI as well. There has been a wave of positive momentum happening in recent years. Whether it be the City, County, businesses, non-profits, foundations, clubs, volunteers, etc., all are stakeholders in success and how it impacts the health and vitality of the Grand Island area.
Evidence of our overall success as a community was recently reported by Area Development, a national economic development publication, where Grand Island ranks 22nd nationally among Cities/Metropolitan Service Areas (MSA) for economic health and growth. This ranking is based on research over a five-year timeframe consisting of pre- and post-pandemic years. The areas that fared the best are those whose metrics show them in a significantly better place than they were before the pandemic.
As this new year begins, GGI’s Executive Committee will be focused on the priorities of workforce and housing, entrepreneurship, recreation, image/attraction, and supporting targeted development. We look forward to working together with so many others who share the common pursuit of success.
GGI’s story since 2016 can be summed up in the words of Edward Everett Hale, American author, and historian, when he said, “coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” Here’s to another year of success and many more to come! Cheers!