Byron Dreams Big
Why are young adults moving back to Byron, NE, pop. 83? According to Jaye Moeller, two words: “Better life!”
A brand new million-dollar community center will be part of that better life.
“Some people, like me, started coming back to take advantage of good career opportunities and small town living simultaneously, a situation that doesn’t arrive often.” said Laura Tuma, who left Lincoln to become a finance director for Reinke Manufacturing.
“Everyone takes care of one another. You can stay close to your family and friends,” added Melissa Kuhlman.
The strong ag economy over the past several years attracted younger farmers. It also helped “turn up the dream switch” for people of all ages in Byron. In 2011, Byron established an affiliated fund with Nebraska Community Foundation and formed a volunteer Fund Advisory Committee.
Their mission statement is to bring community dreams to reality by stimulating investment in:
- Developing community leaders
- Providing opportunities to give back through time, talent and financial resources
- Partnering with organizations to maximize wealth and human capital
During its first year of operation the Byron Community Foundation Fund received generous gifts of grain. Confidence grew. And the dream of replacing three dilapidated old buildings on Main Street with a new community center seemed within reach.
“During our action planning sessions, Nebraska Community Foundation encouraged us to push ourselves further,” said Jeremy Heitmann, the Fund’s chair. “The support, help and a secure place to put our funds added structure to our dream. The dividend we got from action planning is that things that get measured get done. We won’t stop after the center is built, because a community endowment will actually have more impact than a building. Nebraska Community Foundation pushed us to set our goals higher and reach farther than we were initially comfortable with. Our 20-year goal is to have a $7.5 million endowment,” said Heitmann.
Dreaming big paid off for the Byron Community Foundation Fund. In the spring of 2014 a gift of 160 acres of farmland was arranged by an anonymous donor through Nebraska Community Foundation. The gift will enable the new community center to be completed in the fall of 2014.
Things are changing in Byron, inside and out. “People are thinking about the future,” said Heitmann.