ImagiNE Act Includes Economic Development Tools for Rural Counties

ImagiNE Act Includes Economic Development Tools for Rural Counties Main Photo

19 Aug 2020

The Nebraska Legislature passed a new economic incentive plan, the ImagiNE Act (LB1170), which will keep Nebraska and Phelps County competitive in the quest to recruit new businesses and high-paying jobs.

PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said that economic incentives help attract investment and drive growth, and he is pleased that the Legislature has passed a bill that will help PCDC continue to “Grow 37”.

“Growth and diversification are the best remedies to hold down the rate of growth of taxes,” Tillery said. “To maintain our competitiveness with other states, Nebraska must have a package that is attractive to decision-makers at growing companies, including those already in Nebraska that have choices on where to do business.”

PCDC was a strong supporter of the bill, which will give economic developers more tools to recruit and retain businesses and manufacturers. The new incentives could help fill PCDC’s 134-acre Iron Horse Business & Industry Park west of Holdrege.

ImagiNE replaces the Nebraska Advantage Act, which has been in place since 2005 and expires at the end of 2020. The Legislature approved ImagiNE in the final days of the 2020 session in mid-August.

“I'm relieved that there will be no interruption of tools available for Nebraska to recruit new investment and continue job creation,” Tillery said. “We need every advantage possible to promote growth and development in rural Nebraska.”

ImagiNE contains incentives to bring new manufacturing jobs to rural counties with populations of less than 100,000. It provides incentives to companies that pay higher wages, provide health insurance and other benefits. It also includes a simplified application and approval process.

Tillery said the new plan continues to be a pay-for-performance program – no benefits are received until investments are made and jobs are created.

 “LB1107 (formerly LB720) creates opportunities for Nebraskans to achieve prosperity,” Tillery said. “The program includes a rural tier of incentives to provide a specific set of tools to assist areas like Phelps County. The program will have more transparency for reporting results to the public and the Legislature, yet also be more user friendly.”

Tillery said that economic incentive agreements are public/private partnerships that have historically returned $2.02 in goods and services for every $1 in incentives earned. That’s in addition to the $10.8 billion in private capital investment, 100,000 jobs and 170 communities in Nebraska that have benefited from the current incentives program over the last decade.

“ImagiNE is a targeted program designed to support 21st-Century economic and civic needs,” Tillery said. “It supports the growth of Nebraska’s economic bread and butter – agribusiness and manufacturing – with right-sized thresholds for small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs and rural communities. The flexibility in benefits is designed to help startups and small businesses scale up. These are exactly the high-growth sectors and good-paying jobs we should be pursuing.”

Tillery said the ImagiNE Act was passed at a crucial time.

“Nebraska is evolving, and there’s growing optimism that our recovery will create more diverse opportunities for businesses and communities,” Tillery said. “We’re seeing increased interest by firms seeking to re-shore manufacturing operations from foreign markets. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that Nebraska is well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities by being a leader in innovation and opportunity. Every competing state has business incentive programs designed to attract new business and investment. And every business considering expansion or relocation has choices where to make its investment decisions. The ImagiNE Nebraska Act will provide PCDC and Nebraska with the essential tools necessary to compete for those opportunities.”

For more information about economic development incentives in Nebraska and Phelps County, contact Ron Tillery at or (308) 995-4148.