Smith Announces Winners of 2018 Third District Excellence in Economic Development Awards

Jul 24, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) today announced the winners of the 2018 Third District Excellence in Economic Development Awards. The awards honor eleven individuals and businesses helping to strengthen Nebraska communities through innovation, hard work, entrepreneurship, and historic preservation.

The winners will be recognized by Smith before the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I’m proud to announce the winners of our 2018 Excellence in Economic Development Awards who have done so much to expand opportunity in Nebraska,” Smith said. “Tax reform and deregulation are improving the conditions necessary for robust economic growth and I’m excited to see their benefits improving the lives of all Americans.”

2018 Winners

The Hub, Burwell: Currently owned by John and Melissa Schere, “The Hub” was originally built as a professional building in 1906 by Burwell-area entrepreneur H.J. Coffin. The building, the first in the area to be built of concrete block, was an early home of the Burwell Mercantile and Burwell Drug Company. This building served as an important part of the commercial center (or Hub) of Burwell until it was abandoned in 2003. The building was purchased by John and Melissa Schere in 2006, and joined the Register of National Historic Places the same year. Their goal was to restore “The Hub” to its status as a community center and to its original early 20th century purpose and aesthetic. Today, the Scheres are proud to provide a coffee and old fashioned ice cream soda fountain and retail space capable of hosting public meetings for community members of all ages.    

Lukjan Metal, Sidney: Lukjan Metal Products is a family owned and operated business which has been manufacturing high quality sheet metal pipe, duct, and fittings for the wholesale HVAC industry since February 1964. Opening their Sidney location in early 2017, the family-owned company is proud to provide 30 jobs currently, with plans to nearly double this capacity by 2021. Lukjan believed Sidney provided an excellent expansion opportunity which allowed their company access to the Denver markets.

Blue Print Engines, Kearney: Founded by Norris Marshall in the early 1980s in a rented garage, Blue Print Engines recently moved into a 150,000 square foot production and testing facility, and now employees over 100 people in the Kearney area. Having an attitude which “exemplifies Kearney,” according to Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse, Mr. Marshall has quietly turned his passion for rebuilding high performance car engines into one of the largest crate engine manufacturers in the world, serving customers ranging in size from individual car collectors to NASCAR. Recently, Mr. Marshall has embarked on a new journey, training the next generation of engineers and craftsmen who will carry on his passion for the next several decades through his award winning collaboration with Kearney Public Schools.

LiteForm, South Sioux City: Led by their founder, Pat Boeshart, LiteForm has proven to be a committed, innovative economic and community partner in northeast Nebraska and the greater Siouxland area. Their organization is committed to constructing extremely energy efficient buildings throughout the world, constantly seeking ways to improve the energy efficiency and construction techniques of their units. LiteForm also came to the rescue for the Siouxland area during the Missouri River flooding in 2011, providing needed resources and rebuilding support. Over the last several years Boeshart has developed an energy and resource efficient replacement for rebar called GlassBar, a non-rusting material which reduces cost and material weight.

The Urwiller Family, Ravenna: Family matriarch Bea Urwiller and her late husband Richard started Urwiller’s Melon Patch in 1963 out of a desire to share their abundant melon harvest with area residents and those driving down Nebraska’s Highway 2. Though their son Robert, his wife Christie, their children Kody, Michaela, Kent and his wife Sara have now taken lead of the Urwiller Melon Patch, they have never missed a season, and always remained committed to producing quality melons and vegetables dedicated to the Nebraska values of hard work, common sense, and fairness in their business. The Urwiller family, took their entrepreneurial energy a step further and opened two additional businesses in the last 10 years in the Ravenna community. Christie, and her daughter Michaela translated a baking and catering home-based business into a popular Ravenna-area breakfast establishment, “Christie’s Kitchen.” Knowing their business has succeeded because of their commitment to quality, they arrive by 2am every day to ensure their customers receive fresh-baked, and locally provided items every morning.  Kent and his wife Sara opened Prairie Hills Wireless in 2013. Prairie Hills is an independent high-quality broadband provider. They now serve over 70% of the Ravenna community, and have the capacity to provide service to every community within a 20-minute drive of Ravenna. The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) recognized Kent as their 2017 Operator of the Year.

Larry Paulsen, Cozad: Larry Paulsen has worked tirelessly for many years to create opportunities for others to be successful. These successes can be seen not only in his own business, Paulsen Incorporated, a construction/redi-mix company and one of the largest employers in the Cozad area, but in the downtown district of Cozad, local baseball fields, the chamber of commerce, community festivals, local museums, and many other places. Larry often purchases and renovates buildings in downtown Cozad to allow small businesses an opportunity to grow. He is also at every Legion baseball game, behind the grill, ensuring all the fans have enough to eat and assisting with field preparation before and after the games. As an avid volunteer and promoter of Cozad who is committed to community service, Larry’s actions have truly strengthened Cozad, Dawson County, and state of Nebraska.

Anson Family, Grand Island: The Anson family - Charles, John, and Amos - are changing the landscape of Grand Island’s downtown area. Renovating and giving new life to a historic building can be a daunting task, and is not for the faint of heart. This type of challenge takes vision, out-side-the-box problem solving, patience, and public-private collaboration.  Each of the Anson family renovations becomes a modern, up-to-date, multi-use center appropriate for business, retail, and upper story living while still paying tribute to the historic roots of the building. Current Grand Island businesses renovated by the Anson family include The Chocolate Bar, McKinney’s Irish Pub, Tower 217, GIX Logistics, and Prairie Pride Brewing. In addition to their for-profit efforts, Amos lends his time and talents to the Grand Island area Habitat for Humanity and HEAR Grand Island.

Butler Professional Farrier School, Crawford: Led by Dr. Doug Butler and his sons, Peter and Jacob, the internationally recognized Butler Professional Farrier School is committed to providing quality, intensive educational experiences to students and current professional farriers. Rooted in blacksmithing techniques dating back to medieval Europe when teaching horse shoe fabrication, the Butler family provides a 21st century educational experience focused on the health and viability of the horse and its feet as their primary concern. When asked what he appreciates about their profession, Butler has said, “there is a heritage in the craft, and I like this style for that reason. There is as much art as there is science; that’s what I enjoy the most about it.”

Central Nebraska Regional Airport, Grand Island: A Grand Island area airport was opened originally by the Grand Island Aero Company, organized by World War I pilot Floyd Thompson, on private land owned by H.O. Doc Woodward in 1919. Other than a stint as a U.S. Government training facility for the 6th, 502nd, and 376th Bombardment Groups during World War II, the Grand Island area airport has enjoyed a long history of local public ownership and commercial use. The facility is known today as the Central Nebraska Regional Airport. In 2016, it completed the construction of a $14 million passenger terminal. When this terminal opened, its annual enplanement numbers exceeded 64,000 and its local economic impact rose above $158 million. These numbers have only continued to rise. Today, the Central Nebraska Regional Airport rivals its eastern Nebraska counterparts for service and travel availability to support residents of greater Nebraska’s travel needs.

GROW Nebraska, Oxford: Founded in 1993, GROW Nebraska is a dynamic, membership-based, non-profit entrepreneurial, service, and educational organization charged with helping small businesses build and expand economic capacity. This organization’s mission is to provide education and training to individuals and small business owners across Nebraska, with an emphasis on economically depressed areas and to create sustainable economic development and marketing opportunities. Their goal is to connect Nebraska to the global marketplace through mentorship, classroom education, technical assistance in your place of business, e-commerce, wholesale and export guidance, professional marketing training, and much more. Members of GROW Nebraska number in the hundreds and include software company Hollman Media of Kearney, Pacha Soap of Hastings, a recipient of the Whole Foods Market Supplier Award for Outstanding Innovation, and Preferred Popcorn of Chapman, a 100 percent farmer-owned company whose product is sold in 70 countries worldwide for a total of more than one billion servings annually.

Main Street Beatrice, Beatrice: Founded in 1996, Beatrice has been a “Main Street” community since 1996, when a group of stakeholders came together over concerns about the future of their downtown area. Together, they worked to include Beatrice in the Nebraska Lied Main Street program and the Certified National Main Street program. Main Street Beatrice provides guidance and resources to downtown businesses, building owners, and others by utilizing the National Main Street Program approach. The organization has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two years. Together with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Nebraska State Historical Society, Main Street Beatrice has been a leader in advocating for and sharing the message of the importance of utilizing available resources for historic preservation through training, awareness events, and community outreach. Beatrice was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.