Cranes Lure Site Selectors to Central Nebraska

22 Mar 2016

The annual Sandhill Crane migration gave the Phelps County Development Corporation and other area economic development agencies the perfect opportunity to show that Central Nebraska is more than ‘just for the birds.’


Three site selectors were invited to the area to experience the sights and sounds of the annual Sandhill Crane migration. During their visit to Kearney, PCDC and other agencies shared presentations about the sights and sounds of their communities and potential business opportunities.


The site selectors work with businesses across the county to help them locate suitable business locations.


“This opportunity helps us build a relationship with three individuals who can influence business’ site location decisions,” PCDC Executive Director Monica Boyken said. “When Nebraska and Kansas are both good states for siting a business, we hope that these site selection consultants remember their crane visit fondly and share that emotional connection with their clients. And, when they start to find the ideal candidate along the rural I-80 corridor, we hope they’ll remember Phelps County.” 


The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) organized the “familiarization” event and has organized other similar events in the past.


“Site selection consultants are lured to a destination with the promise of some fun in return for their rapt attention,” Boyken said. “This allows the consultants to become familiar with states or regions. They might otherwise never take a look at Nebraska.”


In addition to Phelps County, site selectors heard from economic development agencies in Buffalo County, Dawson County and York and from the North Platte Area Chamber of Commerce. All of the presentations took place in Kearney.


Boyken, who shared the Phelps County story, said she wanted to differentiate Phelps County from other locations in the country and from other Nebraska communities, so her presentation focused on the following:


  1. The Iron Horse Business and Industry Park that is served by a short-line rail (nobody else in the state has one),
  2. The sustainable groundwater supply in Phelps County, which is the only area in the Ogallala Aquifer that is increasing in water volume,
  3. The organizational structure that makes Phelps County competitive, including the LB840 and private funding that allows PCDC to complete the infrastructure needed at the Iron Horse park, deploy strategies for workforce attraction and provide incentives to competitively bid for businesses seeking a new or additional location.  


Boyken said after the presentations that one of the site selection consultants was visibly interested in the abundant water supply in Kearney, Gosper and Phelps Counties as a lack of water is an issue in other parts of the country. Site selection consultants also said they were impressed with the financial incentives the communities were offering and encouraged more aggressive advertising of these incentives.


By Kristine Jacobson for PCDC