By Steve White email@example.com
How successful has Grand Island's LB 840 economic development plan been? 1,200 good paying jobs have created $36 million in annual payroll.
"The LB 840 campaign has been an essential tool over the last few years," Campaign Chair Bill Marshall said.
They kicked off the campaign at Nova-Tech, a homegrown business that may not have been able to expand without the program.
Owner Gloria Thesenvitz said, "It provided me some instant cash flow and that's critical to any business and it also gave me seed dollars to go to lenders and it also gave a vote of approval."
For all the jobs created, many will remember the failure of Structured Solutions who promised 50 jobs but delivered just six.
And the California / Nevada company did so with more than a half-million dollar payout before they'd done anything.
Economic Development Director Marlan Ferguson said, "Anything over $50,000 goes to a company will have to be dispersed over time so you don't get, in the case of Structured Solutions, they got $600,000 up front, so that's no longer available."
Organizers say they've beefed up safeguards, as they try to keep a tool important to keep grand island vibrant.
"It's not a magic finger you point at and say we need to do this, we have to position ourselves to be ready," Ferguson said.
Structured Solutions may have left the city empty handed, but homegrown businesses have
flourished with this support.
"There's a lot of security and assurance with locally owned business," Thesenvitz said, saying she hopes to see more local companies grow like hers has.
Called an LB 840 program because of the state law that authorizes it, the program uses public dollars but will not require a new tax.
The program will expire after a ten-year run, so they're asking voters to renew it this November.
Ferguson will soon be taking a leave from his job to serve as interim city administrator. During that period, he can educate people about the program, but will not be able to ask people to vote yes. A committee has been set up to support the campaign.
LB 840 by the numbers
Since voters approved the plan in 2003 for Grand Island:
For more, visit www.MoreJobsforGI.com.