In our region, good news and continued progress has been the rapidly disappearing economic theme this summer. A common thread in our positive developments has been the cooperation between private and public resources to get things done.
The east-west distribution of North Platte by value-added agricultural enterprises is progressing promisingly. Sustainable Beef’s association with retail giant Walmart and the likely start of landfill earth moving on the site brings this beef processing plant closer to reality on our city’s east side. The future rail park near Hershey has announced a soybean processor as the target of its flagship business. Both projects are the result of substantial collaboration between private industry and incentives from local, state and federal governments; neither could have taken off without the ingenuity and elbow grease of individuals and groups combined with city and county incentives and state economic development dollars and support, some of which came from federal COVID relief funds. Private industry combined with public incentives will soon bring to life the long-held goal of a value-added agricultural industry right here in Lincoln County – a natural fit if ever there was one, given the proximity of some of the best farmers and ranchers in the world, and transport a widely envied logistics and infrastructure.
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In another example of public incentives paired with private ingenuity, Chief Industries continues to develop warehousing and transportation structures between Interstate 80 interchanges. t is District 177 on the grounds of the former mall becoming increasingly crisp as the exterior of the impressive four-story V-shaped structure on South Dewey takes on a finished finish. see. The imagination and the economic risk taken by Rev Development are the beating heart and the cornerstone of this project; The TIF and sales tax economic incentives approved by our City Council were essential to its existence. Further north, the Canteen District in downtown North Platte has been transformed from an aged and declining treasure into a welcoming, thriving, diverse and architecturally interesting historic area. This renovation is the result of the pride and effort of downtown business and building owners who are working with the city to upgrade infrastructure and beautify street and structure facades.
Available housing, especially affordable housing for the workforce, presents an ongoing challenge. The North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp. continues to lead on this front. This organization’s Shot in the Arm program combined funding from the chamber, dollars from the city’s Quality Growth Fund, Great Plains Health, Union Pacific and workforce housing funds from the state to trigger the construction of hundreds of private residences. Public and private cooperation has resulted in new multi-family housing developments at A Street and Lakeview Boulevard and additional apartments at Pacific Place. Most recently, the chamber purchased undeveloped land north of the cemetery, obtained TIF approval from the city council for the infrastructure needed to convert the raw land into construction-ready lots, and plans to eventually transfer the savings generated by the public incentive to the owners of 51 new houses to be built in the new district.
None of the good things happening in our city and region would exist without the cooperative interaction between private enterprise and public incentives. And the projects themselves are just the most obvious benefits. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see all the jobs generated by constructing the structures, supplying the building materials, and operating the businesses that will find their homes in the buildings. Construction-related sales, then generated by new businesses, lead to increased sales tax revenue that would not otherwise exist; increasing property values will broaden our property tax base in a way that would never happen with perpetually vacant properties and without construction and renovation.
There is a positive momentum bubbling up in North Platte, nowhere more evident than in the enthusiasm and effort that culminated in a successful petition to put the half-cent sales tax on recreation center improvements , Cody Pool and Skate Park on the November General Election ballot. This momentum is not unanimous, as evidenced by council members Ed Rieker, Donna Tryon, and Mark Woods’ regular opposition to municipal government involvement in things that improve North Platte. But we’ve come a long way, and we can sustain it by staying engaged and electing representatives who understand that government revenue has a legitimate and necessary role in overcoming stagnation and achieving desired progress.
Jim Paloucek is a North Platte attorney and the former chair of the North Platte School Board. He can be contacted at [email protected]