Twin Cities Development Community Development Director Keith Ellis admits there is growing concern that Scottsbluff could lose its panhandle retail service hub reputation with the closing of key stores over the last few years.
Speaking to KNEB News following a presentation before the Scotts Bluff County Board, Ellis said “we need to fill some empty buildings,”like Herbergers and K-Mart, so the community can grow, noting a growing economy needs a strong retail sector to go along with a vibrant business community.
In trying to achieve that vibrant business community, Ellis says TCD is targeting agricultural, manufacturing and transportation businesses that meet the skills of the work force. Ellis says the area has graduates skilled in metal fabrication that can assist existing companies like Aulicks and CS Precision and other similar type businesses .
Ellis says TCD is also doing a lot of marketing of the community, gaining 2,400 hits on TCD’s website in the year-plus he has been on board. He says those hits may not be fruitful immediately but with patience could bring a business in a year or two down the road through the building of relationships .
He also praised the industrial sites on the east end of Gering that have completed infrastructure and easy accessibility to a four lane road that should be very attractive for a warehouse distribution center.
The Commissioners Monday also formally approved a $47 million dollar budget that is four millions dollars lower than last year.
The budget includes a 2.1% increase in property tax asking (12.6 million), a $75,000 lowering of the cash reserve (now at just under $4.2 million), an over $10,000 reduction in the county board salary hike approved by the commissioners in January, and a 3% cost of living hike ($155,000 cost) for non-union and non-elected personnel.
There is a $535,000 increase for roads and the mill levy for this year’s budget is 42.26.