Phelps County Named Second Top Rural Economic Development Performer

Phelps County Named Second Top Rural Economic Development Performer Main Photo

28 Jul 2021

Awards and Recognition

Nearly $120 million in expansion projects helped Phelps County earn a spot among the top performers in rural economic development in the nation in 2020.

Site Selection magazine recently chose seven rural counties as winners in economic development in 2020. The magazine’s writers listed Phelps County as the second most robust rural economic development region in the United States last year out of 1,287 rural or non-metro counties considered. The selection was based on data collected from Conway Data, Inc., which tracked significant capital investment, job creation and physical buildouts by corporate end-users.

“This selection was unexpected yet it's gratifying to receive recognition from a professional outside source,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “We're focused on doing the work so having the results measure up so well against our competition provides a measure of satisfaction. But our work isn't done. The challenges are evergreen.”

Phelps County was featured prominently in Site Selection magazine’s July story titled, “Which Way for Rural America?”

The magazine has a readership of more than 40,000 and is an internationally circulated business publication covering corporate and real estate and economic development. Having Phelps County featured in this magazine will continue to help with PCDC’s efforts to Grow 37.

“National exposure can help, especially since this magazine is widely read by professional site selection consultants with whom we work on a regular basis,” Tillery said.

PCDC purchased an ad for the printed issue inviting businesses to “Join the Momentum” in Phelps County.

While the nation was shut down due to COVID-19 in 2020, expansion projects continued in Phelps County bolstered by BD being selected for a $70 million government contract to make syringes for COVID-19 vaccinations. Most of the investment went to the Holdrege BD plant. The story also highlights BD’s $200 million investment in the Holdrege plant over the past five years.

The data presented in the magazine shows that Phelps County had six qualifying projects in 2020 (two at BD and one each at Allmand, Phelps Memorial Health Center, Holdrege Equipment and Planter Worx) resulting in $119.6 million in capital investment and 147 new jobs.

PCDC provided a gap-financing loan for the Holdrege Equipment expansion and worked with Allmand on creating space for its expansion at the Iron Horse Industrial Park.

Phelps County and top-performing Marion County, SC, were the only counties to have six qualifying projects. The biggest single rural economic development project in 2020 was Nestle Purina PetCare’s $550 million expansion of its pet food manufacturing facility in Hart County, Ga.

The story also mentioned Phelps Memorial Health Center as a shining star among rural hospitals. In an era when many rural hospitals are closing, PMHC just completed a $25 million expansion.

Tillery’s comments about Phelps County are prominently featured in the story, and the writer calls attention to the fact that local citizens overwhelming agreed (83%) to a half-cent sales tax to fund economic development. That is one key to Phelps County’s success. The tax generates approximately $500,000 annually to help with housing grants and development, business grants and loans, downtown improvements and other PCDC programs to stimulate the local economy.

The full story can be read on Site Selection magazine’s website at