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About Us

Advancing Growth

The AAEDC is a 501c(3) nonprofit with the mission to advance economic growth in the Ashland area through the attraction of new business, retention of existing businesses, and promotion of the area by providing support that enables development and enhances the community region.

Meet the Board

  • Timothy O’Brien – President
  • Teri Mikkelsen – Vice President
  • David Lutton – Treasurer
  • Joanie Swanson – Secretary
  • Robert Bundy – At large member
  • Jeff Dewey – At large member
  • Jason Libal – AGPS School Representative
  • Chuck Niemeyer – City of Ashland Representative
  • Susan Thomas – Chamber of Commerce Representative

Meet the Executive Director

Caleb Fjone

Caleb Fjone

2021-2023 Strategic Plan

On March 22, 2021, the Ashland Area Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) held a meeting to update the existing 2018-2019 Action Plan. AAEDC worked in conjunction with Tom Bliss at Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD) to complete the plan. The strategic planning session was focused on a series of questions that encouraged engagement of the board. The action plan is broken up into four (4) goal statements with items supporting the goal. The addition of a new executive director fulfilled goal statement four (4) from the 2018-2019 Action Plan, which has enabled AAEDC to focus more on commercial development, marketing and advocacy, housing development and the organizational structure. The goals in the 2018-2019 Action Plan are still relevant to the mission of AAEDC, but the 2021 Plan will focus the efforts of the body more effectively. The 2021-2023 Plan will give the board and executive director a blueprint to follow in the coming years.
Prior to the meeting, questions were sent to the participants to begin the engagement process. These questions were designed to have the board members and city staff think about strategy rather than an operational plan. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing was encouraged, which allowed the AAEDC Board and city staff to participate either in-person or online. Understanding the number of changes occurring in Ashland and AAEDC, this is a three (3) year plan. Tasks are divided into three categories: ongoing, short-term and long-term. Unlike the 2018-2019 Action Plan, it is suggested that these activities are shared responsibilities between AAEDC Board Members and the AAEDC Executive Director. As needed, it is strongly encouraged that partner organizations are identified and utilized. This may help conserve the organization’s limited resources.


Goal One

Commercial Development and Capital Investment

A strong, diverse local economy is the backbone of a livable, growing community. Strong, vibrant communities encourage local enterprise that serves the needs of residents and promotes stable employment.


Goal Two

Marketing and Advocacy

A plan to grow awareness of AAEDC is an investment. Growing understanding of the organization will bring new voices to the conversation and cultivate an appreciation for your efforts.


Goal Three

Structure, Membership, and Organizational

A community with a sound economic development program is likely to succeed. To ensure accountability and transparency for its membership, the AAEDC must have a thorough approach for structure and its membership.

Ashland History

The City of Ashland has a rich history full of development and economic growth.

The first settlers in Ashland, Nebraska, came in 1856. By 1858, Ashland was a supply depot for freighters and emigrants. The town began to develop in 1863 with the construction of a general store and a mill. Ashland became the first county seat of Saunders County and held that position until 1873 when the position went to Wahoo, Nebraska. A courthouse was built in 1870, but the property was sold in 1878. Ashland got its name when the legislature changed the names of Saline Ford and Flora City to Ashland in 1866. The town was formally organized on February 2, 1870.

The first settlers in Ashland, Nebraska, came in 1856
The town was formally organized on February 2, 1870
In 1868, there was a population of approximately 150 people. It became a second-class city with a population of over 1500 in 1886 and grew to 2,274 in 1990. The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was built in May of 1870 and its successor the Burlington Northern was the only road servicing the community.

Ashland became a boomtown as soon as the railroad traveled through the town on its way from Plattsmouth to Lincoln. It became a three-county railhead for immigrants. Lumber, coal, tools, merchandise, harness stores, livery stables, hotels and groceries were big sale items.

Ashland’s first business district sprung up on Salt Creek bottom at about 11 to 12th and Birch street called the Bottoms. After the area flooded, a new business district developed on higher ground and these merchants were nicknamed the Silver Street Gang. The name Silver stuck to the street and became the center of the town’s commercial activity for the next century. Merchants who moved from the Bottoms to Silver Street were Scotts Grocery, Snells Dry Goods, Nichols Furniture, Brush Drugs, Johnsons Meat Market, Huck and Solly’s Restaurant and Vollentine’s Mdse.

The town continued to see growth with a 14.8% increase in population from 1990 to 2010. In the Decennial Census Reports, the community marked a 19.1 percent growth rate between 2000 and 2010. In an era that sees many small towns struggle with growth, this is excellent news.

City of Ashland – Official Zoning Map

T Click image to enlarge map

Both the Comprehensive Plan and the Housing Study indicate a continued increase in Ashland’s growth rate. According to the 2014 update of the Comp Plan, the population would range between 2641 and 3297 residents by 2020. The 2017 Housing Study predicted a similar range of 2636 to 2795 residents by 2022.

Today, Ashland benefits from its proximity to Interstate 80 and the cities of Omaha and Lincoln. Ashland is a tourism community because of its rural character. The push for economic development as a community priority to strategic location has primed a building boom in the last decade.

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