Downtown Holdrege Certified as a Creative District

Downtown Holdrege Certified as a Creative District Main Photo

28 Feb 2024

Culture and Arts

A new program aims to boost the local economy by enhancing the visibility and vitality of downtown Holdrege through art displays, murals, creative events and improved communications.

PCDC and community volunteers from other organizations have been researching, gathering ideas and planning for the past year to be part of the Nebraska Arts Council’s Creative District Program.

In January, the arts council named downtown Holdrege an official Certified Creative District and awarded a $10,000 grant for promotions, branding and events. In paying tribute to the town’s railroad beginning, the area is being branded as the Iron Horse District. It includes all of downtown Holdrege from the railroad to Sixth Avenue and Garfield to Grant.

“It is a proven fact that elevating the arts enhances an area’s overall livability,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “We are hoping to make downtown Holdrege more vibrant and alive to better support business growth and employee recruitment and retention.”

Tillery said that celebrating creative expression adds to the richness of life, and that’s something people seek out when they are choosing where to live.

“Recruiting people is a top priority for economic development,” Tillery said.

The mission of the Iron Horse District is to “create a vibrant and attractive destination for residents and visitors and celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and artistic roots of the community. It will encourage lifelong learning through memorable experiences and immersive events, foster a sense of belonging, promote historical preservation and create economic prosperity and sustainability.”

Strategic plans for the district include:

  • Physical enhancements such as lights, murals, and painted crosswalks
  • A temporary and later permanent art center/gallery
  • Public art displays and contests
  • A signature art and music festival each fall with the first event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14. 

PCDC is part of the original community collaboration that also includes the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce, the Phelps County Visitors Committee, Holdrege Area Public Library and the City of Holdrege. The group started gathering community input in the summer of 2023 and formed the strategic plan in the fall of 2023 with the help of more than 20 community volunteers. 

Downtown Holdrege is already thriving with arts and creativity. Beautiful floral arrangements at Holdrege Floral Expressions, author talks and craft events at the Holdrege Area Public Library, painting events at the Lost Way Brewery and Holdrege Sun Theater & Event Venue, and live music at JB’s Sports Bar & Grill are just a few of the regular creative activities already happening in downtown Holdrege. Visitors can enjoy several bronze sculptures in downtown Holdrege, and the new Midtown Sculpture Garden is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2024. 

This new certification will open funding opportunities to enhance the area even further and bring new life to downtown Holdrege, which has already seen momentum from recent new businesses and investments. 

Since 2018, PCDC has invested more than $400,000 in 28 projects in downtown Holdrege through grants and loans. Those investments have already made the downtown area more vibrant. The creative district program will add to those efforts.

In addition to local, state and potential federal grants, the arts district will be funded with proceeds from events and sponsorships.

Holdrege is one of 28 Nebraska communities to become a certified creative district community. For more information about the Creative District program, visit the Nebraska Arts Council website at

For more information or to volunteer or be involved in Holdrege’s Iron Horse District, email, or visit Iron Horse District on Facebook