After Busy 2018, PCDC Sets Stage for More New Jobs, Business Investments & Housing in 2019

Monday, December 31, 2018

The Phelps County Development Corporation created momentum in the local economy in 2018 with housing initiatives, programs that encourage commuters to become full-time residents and the successful effort to encourage a local manufacturer to expand in Holdrege.

“We’re pleased with the level of activity in 2018, and our market is poised to enjoy a very busy year of construction in 2019,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “Our main goal is to establish a strong, sustainable economy that generates economic gravity, a situation where natural forces help to attract more and more investment.”

PCDC staff and volunteers worked closely with Briggs & Stratton during the past 18 months to secure the company’s $8 million investment in the local Allmand Inc. plant. The 70,000-square-foot expansion will include five new assembly lines and up to 60 new jobs boosting the plant’s total employment to near 280 workers.

Tillery said Briggs & Stratton selected the Allmand facility in Holdrege after a lengthy process of evaluation of other plants across the country that had excess capacity.

PCDC worked to secure $550,000 in grants from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the Nebraska Department of Transportation to support the expansion, including funding to pave Gustin Street (leading to the plant) in 2019.

Tillery said that one of the main challenges affecting local growth is an already robust economy with a 2.2 percent unemployment rate. That makes it difficult to find qualified workers.

“Consequently, more and more of PCDC’s efforts are concentrated in talent development initiatives, commuter recruitment and helping existing employers grow,” he said.

To help create a stronger workforce, PCDC has focused on addressing the need for more workforce housing. The organization recruited a developer to construct the $2.25 million 18-unit Washington Square townhomes, which was completed in June.

With PCDC incentives, a developer constructed three new homes in Loomis, and two lots were cleared (one in Holdrege and one in Bertrand) of dilapidated homes to make way for new homes.

PCDC GO! Home programs also:

  • Relocated 13 families (39 new residents in 2018 and 58 new residents since the fall of 2017) with the Down Payment Assistance Grants. Those grants helped new residents purchase $1.34 million of real estate.
  • Attracted five new residents with Renter Relocation Grants.
  • Created 10 new homes, improved 20 existing homes, prepared four new lots for construction and improved five contractor-renovated homes.

While the momentum has increased in 2018, Tillery said PCDC staff and volunteers are still not satisfied and are working to boost the local economy even more in 2019.

Tillery said two new housing subdivisions will be started in Holdrege in 2019. PCDC helped secure $568,500 in grants to support one of the projects. Groundbreaking on that subdivision is scheduled for the spring of 2019 and will include up to 40 new living units. PCDC is also working with a private developer to acquire property for a future housing subdivision to be announced in early 2019.

Other PCDC accomplishments and milestones in 2018:

  • Secured a commitment to build a new 45-room Cobblestone Hotel, an investment of $4.25 million that will result in 22 new jobs. Groundbreaking is scheduled for spring of 2019.
  • Assisted developers in evaluating sites and local resources to expand the Veteran’s Clinic.
  • Completed a Workforce Availability Report for use by local employers.
  • Consulted with multiple local firms for expansions or new investment.
  • Created new development covenants for the Iron Horse Business & Industrial Park.
  • PCDC housing programs and Phelps County were featured in multiple media outlets from Des Moines to Denver to Phoenix.
  • Made the first payment for the new ball field complex being constructed by the City of Holdrege. PCDC has pledged $1 million of LB840 funds to make the project a reality.
  • Spearheaded an Event Center Feasibility Study that concluded a need and strong support to construct a new facility. Formed an event center steering committee and hired a design firm to evaluate locations and create event center schematic plans.
  • Welcomed UNL Chancellor Dr. Ronnie Green as the keynote speaker at PCDC’s annual meeting.
  • Rebuilt the PCDC website, which yielded significantly improved search results.
  • The new website was honored with the First Place-Small Community award for its GO! Marketing Program from the Mid-America Economic Development Council (MAEDC).
  • Awarded nine high-demand job scholarships to local students, which encourages them to return home to begin their careers.
  • Gave First Impression Grants that generated more than $63,000 of new investment in downtown Holdrege.
  • Provided more than 40 bid opportunities to PCDC’s Builder’s Bureau. Bid requests for the new ball field concessions and restrooms building were sent on Dec. 29.
  • Provided $15,000 in funding for ESU 11’s new CSI-STEM mobile laboratory to introduce middle school students to local and national careers in science and technology.

For more information about PCDC and its programs or how to be involved and support PCDC’s work, please visit the website at www.PhelpsCountyNE.com or contact Tillery at Ron@PhelpsCountyNE.com or (308) 995-4148.

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