Seward Wellness Center gets $5 million shovel- ready grant

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Seward Changing the Game, the nonprofit organization working toward the creation of the Seward Wellness Center, was awarded a $5 million Shovel-Ready Capital Recovery and Investment Act grant to help pay for a portion of the Seward Wellness Center.

The committee annonced the win June 24 after the grant was awarded by the Nebraska Legislature on June 17 as part of $115 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds set aside for nonprofits working on projects related to arts, recreation and humanities.

“We were thrilled to learn that we are one of the recipients of this grant,” said Shane Baack, who has been involved with spearheading a Seward Wellness Center effort for the past decade. “It’s been a long time coming, and we are excited to finally see this come together for our community.”

According to a press release from Changing the Game, the grant will be funded with Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that were made available through a program coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and funded through the legislature’s Appropriations committee, of which Sen. Mark Kolterman of Seward is a member.

Changing the Game worked with City of Seward officials to coordinate the grant application for this and several other high-dollar grants.

The committee hopes to fund the $18 million Wellness Center with a third each of private pledges, grants and sales tax revenue – but securing more grants could mean less will have to be paid through taxes.

“With the pledges received from community members, combined with the passage of the half-cent sales tax increase this past May, this part of the ‘three-legged stool’ was all we were waiting for to begin the next step of the process, which will move this project into a final design stage prior to groundbreaking,” Seward City Administrator Greg Butcher said.

“Seward has many great amenities that provide a high quality of life for our residents,” Mayor Josh Eickmeier said. “The wellness center will be a great addition to our community as a year-round facility for people of all ages to enjoy.”

Changing the Game has partnered with a professional grant writer to seek additional funding.

Butcher said June 21 that the organization is still applying for a $10 million Federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund grant. The fund will provide up to $10 million for projects that serve as a multipurpose community facility.

It also is seeking a $1 million grant from the Kiewitt Foundation and has several other applications going for grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.

Butcher said pursuing these additional funding sources could reduce the sales tax obligation and help offset inflation.

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