The Gering Industrial Park and the use of LB 840 funds in its purchase was a topic brought up by the audience Thursday night during a town hall meeting on the two-part ballot proposition to re-authorize the 1/2 cent sales tax for economic development.
When questioned on whether it was proper to use of the economic development funds, support committee member Keith Ellis with Twin Cities Development said it was allowed by state law. He said in fact, the industrial park has helped local officials promote the area to businesses seeking new locations.
Ellis says companies seek a short time frame from proposal to start-up, and lack of an industrial park puts a community at a disadvantage. “If you don’t do that, you’re just absolutely out of any economic development opportunity, because it takes too long to go through the process of purchasing land and having the land available for that particular prospect.”
In the last year alone there were 8 companies that asked for a request for proposal because local officials were able to promote the fact the area has an industrial park. “These were large manufacturing, medium size assembly manufacturing, food processing,” says Ellis, “Even had a bakery looking at us but they needed a commercial large bakery and those kinds of things. And so, we get those inquiries because we are promoting and marketing that industrial site.”
Support committee members asked Gering residents to continue supporting that funding approach for economic development, noting more than 20 businesses have been retained or started in Gering, along with over 200 jobs, with the assistance of the program that started in 2004.