Our Town Cozad: Dynamic Downtown
The community of Cozad has worked hard to bring renewed life to the downtown area, and businesses are enjoying the benefits.
The store called "Dawsonhome" is just one example of the kinds of businesses doing very well in downtown Cozad. "We specialize in furniture, accessories, some gift items, but mostly we try to get unique items that you can't get in other stores," owner Tom Gosinski said.
Everywhere you look in downtown Cozad, storefronts are filled, and streets are vibrant. It's thanks in part to a concerted effort to make improvements. "We had a grant through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for downtown revitalization. We developed a plan on how we were going to create a vibrant downtown, and so that was our starting point," Cozad Development Corporation Executive Director Jennifer McKeone said. "We helped many business owners with new windows, new awnings, we repaired sidewalks, and did alley work. So that is always a domino effect. When one building gets improved, then the neighbors want to fix up their storefront."
The Cozad Development Corporation also developed a program called "Pitch It" to encourage entrepreneurship. "Winners got free rent for a year if they pitched their business idea and were selected," McKeone said. "We had ideas that came in from different states and different towns."
The business called "Double L Embroidery" was the winner of the "Pitch It" effort. Owner Jody Laird is the force behind this embroidery and screen-printing business. "I can embroider basketballs and softballs and when I first started that, it was such an eye-catcher for people," Laird said. She says the Pitch It program helped her grow. "I am very very grateful to the support I was able to get right out of the gate. They renovated the building, and I have a year's worth of free rent."
Along with Double L Embroidery and Dawsonhome, there are a wide variety of other businesses downtown. "We have Rustic and Red, which is on the Nebraska Passport program and is a must-see. We have New Life Interiors, and they do flooring, kitchen, bathroom remodels," McKeone said. "We have Sweetwater Outfitters, which is a new western and clothing boutique, we have Mode Fashion, and Shabby Chic which offers upscale furniture and gifts." There's also the Prairie Point Junction Quilt Shop that brings visitors in from outside of town. There are places to eat, and even a coffee shop called the Daily Scoop where people gather for conversation. Business owners are happy, but not surprised by the success. "We have a lot of people who come from Omaha and Lincoln and Denver. We ship stuff to Atlanta, and Kansas City and to Dallas, and all of them talk about the customer service they get, and the one-on-one service they get here in Cozad," Gosinksi said.
Business owners feel Cozad is a good central point for commerce. And, there's a feeling here that this growth and excitement will continue. "When you have a strong healthy downtown, it equates to a strong community," McKeone said.