GI Development Director Helping Create Jobs to the End
By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Two of the area's top employers seek incentives to create more than a hundred new jobs, in a dream scenario for Grand Island's economic development director as he moves on to a new position.
Even in his final days as head of the Grand Island Economic Development Corporation, Marlan Ferguson is working to create jobs.
He's headed to Aurora as City Administrator, but not before presenting three applications for city incentives in Grand Island.
"They are long time businesses here in the community and continuing to grow and prosper and expand and they want to do it here, so that's exciting to have the opportunity to use LB 840 funds," he said.
Ferguson gives credit to the voters who, last November, renewed the city's incentive package, known as an LB 840 plan.
One incentive would help Central Community College with its welding program. Chief Industries is seeking around $300,000 to create 41 jobs.
The biggest request comes from Case IH.
Case IH is planning a $7.6 million dollar addition to their plant that builds dozens of combines a day.
They're seeing a half-million dollar incentive package, with a pledge to create 100 new good-paying jobs.
For the outgoing economic development director, the fact this plant is thriving is proof the city's plan works, since it was only a dozen years ago it looked like Grand island may lose that plant all together.
Ferguson said, "That's a story I keep going back to. Had pretty good incentive package to compete with Illinois and folks back east when they combined Case and New Holland and International, all combined. Fortunately, we were able to keep it here and expand."
Ferguson says that's what the city's incentive plan was created for, to help these companies create jobs.
"Both those projects will, as we like to see, add not only employees but add tax base with additional property investment, so that's always good," he said.
After a weekend off, he starts Monday as City Administrator of Aurora.
He'll continue to flex his economic development muscles, this time in a smaller community with big industry like Aurora Cooperative and Hamilton Telecommunications.