Our Town McCook: Keystone Building

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 11:04 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 11:08 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - What was once a hotel in downtown McCook, now serves as a home for the local economic development corporation, and a place where small business can bloom.

Jerry Calvin is with the McCook Economic Development Corporation, and is a member of the McCook City Council. He recently joined us for a tour of the Keystone Building. “The effort to build this building started in 1920, and it was completed in 1922,” Calvin said. “It was community driven funds, and the plan was to build a really nice hotel in McCook. It was the Keystone, from 1922 to 1969. At that time, it stopped operating as a hotel, and became a retirement center. That lasted until 2007, and it shut down. It sat vacant, but then former director of the McCook Economic Development Corporation Rex Nelson saw the value in the building. He was a strong driver of purchasing the Keystone and getting it renovated. The building now has offices for the EDC, but more importantly, it serves as a business incubator.”

It turns out the Keystone Building is the perfect place for small entrepreneurs to start a business, and grow it. “A lot of times the people who want to start out, can’t afford an office space or anything,” Calvin said. “Rex’s dream, which became a reality, was you can start up your business here, you can have an office space here, and you pay less than the average market rate, just as a break to get you on your feet. Year two, you probably go with the standard market rate for what you’d rent an office for in McCook, and the third year it might be a little more elevated. We try to go for a three year period, to again, get you started, and then help people leave the nest and find their own office space and place to do business. Then the next entrepreneur can come in and incubate.”

We are told the Keystone Building is full. “We have 22 businesses, and different business entities that are occupying,” Calvin said. “We also have the co-work space. This was a dream of our last economic development director, Andy Long. Again it’s connected to the incubation concept. If you have a home business, but you have a need for an office, zoom meeting space or higher-end office equipment, you can rent a space, go into the co-work space and conduct your business for a half day or whole day, whatever you need it for.”

The Keystone Building is actually used for many purposes other than just business incubation. “We’ve used our main foyer area for weddings,” Calvin said. “People have found it’s a very nice venue for weddings. We have two different board rooms that businesses can rent, if people don’t have board rooms of their own. The thing I’m most proud of with the McCook Economic Development Corporation is the entrepreneurship development, and the EDC and the Keystone Building has become a part of McCook. It has wide community support.”

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