It is a busy few days for Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley in the Panhandle, as he is spending time touring local businesses, meeting with city officials, and even participating in some Oregon Trial Days festivities.
This morning, Foley was joined by Gering Mayor Tony Kaufman, Scottsbluff Mayor Randy Meininger, and Twin Cities Development’s Keith Ellis. The group looked at the future home of the Twin City’s joint industrial park, with Foley getting a bird’s eye view of the 200 acres of land from a bucket truck.
Foley says with a slumping ag economy, bringing in businesses from other sectors is imperative for the state’s economy.
The mayors say the land has been acquired, annexed, zoning has been completed, and now Gering is working on redoing their comprehensive plan to tie in to the industrial park.
Most of the utilities to the site are hooked up and ready to go, and now they’re ready to market the industrial park.
“We’ve been working with Nebraska Department of Economic Development for the last 8 to 10 months on and off with opportunities,” says Kaufman. “We’ve had more opportunities working with the state to talk to businesses and look at opportunities than we’ve had in the last 20 years.”
Kaufman adds that the addition of the industrial park helps make the community even more competitive, and hopefully sooner rather than later they will land their first business for the industrial park.
Mayor Meininger echoed Kaufman’s sentiments, and says this has been a wonderful joint partnership. In an effort to make government projects go faster, Gering tackled the land acquisition, and Scottsbluff will offer up to $1,000,000 in LB840 funding to bring qualifying businesses to the industrial park.
“We want to make things where we’re working in the speed of business, not the speed of government,” said Meininger.
As far as a timeline for breaking ground for the first building, Kaufman says there’s a lot of variables on when the stars align. He says the biggest thing Gering and Scottsbluff can do is position the community to be competitive so when the right opportunity comes, they can respond accordingly.
Keith Ellis with Twin Cities Development says they’ve been marketing the site online, through targeted marketing, and face-to-face at conferences. He says they’ve been aggressively marketing the industrial park and other retail spaces in the Valley.
“We just keep working hard,” explains Ellis. “We want the community to be engaged in economic development and understand what we’re doing and understand why we have to have sites and buildings. You have to have product to do that.”
Foley said the Scottsbluff/ Gering industrial park sits on a fabulous site.
“And if we can market it and drive some interest and pull somebody in here, it could be a great economic driver to our state.”
Both Mayors said that having the Lt. Governor here today to see the work that has been done and relay that to all of his contacts is greatly beneficial to the Valley.
“Talk is cheap, but actually putting eyes on it- feeling it, smelling it, putting a bird’s eye view over it- is critical,” said Meininger.
“I think the other critical component of that is we have an asset that is ready to go,” added Kaufman. “And I think the state has finally recognized – with his participation here today – it really elevates the visibility of our site and what we have in our community.”
The Lt. Governor also makes plans to tour Valley Ambulance, Aulick Industries, the Comm Center, Flyover Brewing Company, and the AirLink Patient Transfer Center at Regional West. He will also be participating in the Oregon Trail Days parade on Saturday.