Well, here we go!
Most of the 22-member delegation for the All-American City competition will leave Gothenburg today headed for Denver. Gothenburg joins 19 other cities in the running for an All-American City Award from the National Civic League. But what does that mean?
Back in March, a committee from the Gothenburg Improvement Company (GIC) board of directors submitted an application to the National Civic League for the All-American City Award under the theme, "Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement." Isn't that what Gothenburg does all the time? We chose three local projects to highlight how Gothenburg comes together for the good of all: The Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition, local food initiatives such as the BackPack Program and Lunch Buddies, and the YMCA at Gothenburg Health with hospital expansion. All three of those have taken the support from the entire community to accomplish.
We know Gothenburg is awesome. But being a tiny town in central Nebraska, we didn't have huge hopes of making it to the finalist round. After all, we were up against some of the biggest cities in the nation. But the call came just before 5 pm on a Friday afternoon that Gothenburg had been chosen as one of 20 finalists! Today, the GIC committee and a group of community folks are cruising to Denver to strut our stuff!
The first question most people ask me is, "What do you get out of it?"
Being selected as one of the Finalists indicates that the National Civic League recognizes our community as a model for the rest of the country. Gothenburg obviously works collaboratively with stakeholders and has demonstrated an ability to overcome challenges. The All-American City Award is similar to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. It is the most prestigious civic award in the country and proves leadership, stability and drive.
So ... what do we get?
We get nationwide publicity for our city. We get a chance to showcase our community to businesses across the country. We get to use that "seal of approval" when applying for grants. We could see a rise in the number of tourists and new residents.
But above all, we get a sense of accomplishment, teamwork and pride knowing Gothenburg is one of the top 20 cities in the U.S. when it comes to collaboratively and inclusively meeting challenges head-on.
It's been a lot of work preparing for this finalist competition. This delegation of folks have given up work time and free time to pull this together "The Gothenburg Way." Want to see the competition? You can watch the Gothenburg presentation live streamed on the internet at https://www.nationalcivicleague.org/america-city-award/about-the-event/
One of our young delegates will also be competing for an All-American City Youth Award. Heath Keiser, a GHS junior, was selected by school leaders to represent Gothenburg in this competition because he exemplifies what the All-American City Award is all about: impact, inclusiveness, innovation, collaboration and civic engagement.
We're going to Denver with every intention of coming home Sunday night as one of the 10 winners with a youth award in tow. Cheer us on, please, and be sure to thank those involved for their time and efforts:
June & John Venteicher
Chiara & Ashlyn Richeson
Mayor Joyce Hudson
Abraham & Alexavia Mendez
is the Executive Director of the Community Development Office, which encompasses the Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce and the Gothenburg Improvement Company.