Archive for the ‘AREA News’ Category

May 2019 Director’s Update

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 05.29.19


Every year the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce travels the state talking about their priorities for the state legislature. Every year that I’ve attended, the message has been the same on the need to lower our state taxes. When they came to McCook last fall, I was ready to hear the same message. I was surprised. New State Chamber president Bryan Sloan said the lack of a qualified workforce is now the most pressing economic issue in the state.

Last month, the State Labor Department said there were more than 36,000 open jobs in Nebraska, across nearly all fields. Currently, the unemployment rate is at 2.8 percent and Red Willow County’s unemployment rate is 2.6%. Most people who can keep a job are working. The challenge will only become larger as the number of working-age Nebraskans actually peaked in 2018 and is set to decline for the next decade.

As I meet with employers in the area, I hear the same thing. If you go to Parker’s web page you see the following job openings in McCook: Product Engineer, Material Manager, Value Stream Manager, Production Openings, Electronic Maintenance.

At Community Hospital’s website, they currently have seven open job postings. If you are an auto or diesel technician, almost any business who employees technicians is hiring. In certain subject areas, it is difficult for our local schools to generate any type of applicant pool.

As we look at our area’s workforce demand, we are working at being proactive to meet our current and future demand. At our last MEDC board meeting, we invited Superintendent Grant Norgaard, Board President Tom Bredvick, and Kelly Rippen, McCook Community Vice President to talk about local workforce needs and what partnership MEDC can provide with education and business to meet the need.

The school district already has a great partnership with Community Hospital on exploring health careers. If you visited with our graduating seniors, you probably noticed a lot of them are going into health careers. Part of that is the careers program these two organizations have developed. As we talked, Superintendent Norgaard said he welcomes businesses to contact the school and see how they can work together to help students be exposed to the opportunities available locally. This past year, the school district held its first set of Bison Days where students got the chance to explore hobbies and local career opportunities.

The college is working on developing a program to help train more local electronic maintenance technicians. The program should be able to use the resources available at the North Platte campus to offer a hybrid education to provide technical training to people living locally in McCook. The college has also hired a new area Career Connection Coach that should assist in helping connect employers with students. MEDC is currently working with the college to develop an internship program that will help line students up with local businesses and provide the resources local employers need to have a successful internship.

This is a good start, but we need to do more. Hopefully, our health career pathways program at the high school level can be extended to the skilled trades and manufacturing sectors locally. The college has a great opportunity with the old Elks building and with area high school partnerships to offer career and technical education locally.

We will move forward at the MEDC to meet local workforce needs, but I could use your help. If you are an employer and have a local job opening, I want to know. Let me know the following:

  1. Job Title
  2. Amount of Education Required
  3. Pay level of the position

Many times the information used to help make decisions come from a regional or state level. We need more data on the specific positions available and education needed to help connect our local educational institutions and students to the opportunities available here. Contact me at 308-345-1200 or andy@mccookne.org if you want to visit more about your local workforce needs.

April 2019 Director’s Update

AREA News, News - 04.29.19

Valmont has been a great addition to McCook.

Last year Valmont paid $146,283.52 in property taxes. These taxes went to fund the school, city, county, ESU, historical society, Mid-Plains Community College, and the Natural Resources District. Sixteen years ago, the land where Valmont was located paid $784.12 in property tax. The addition of Valmont has brought over 150 jobs, over $8,000,000 in increased property value, and around $150,000 more in local property taxes.

Thanks to the unicameral debate around a proposed constitutional amendment to adjust Tax Increment Financing (TIF), I thought it would be good to give an example of how TIF has affected us in McCook. Part of the incentive package that attracted Valmont was TIF. TIF is one of the more confusing incentive packages available in the state and that confusing brings about misunderstanding.

TIF allows developers to issue a bond for development of a site. Expenses that are TIF eligible include land acquisition, site development, professional fees, installation and construction of public infrastructure, and façade improvements.

Valmont was able to receive a TIF bond to help construct their manufacturing facility. Due to their construction, the value of the land went from $36,510 to $8,200,388 today. The increase in property taxes went to pay off the bond that Valmont received for development for 15 years. The property taxes paid on the original valuation of $36,510 continued to go to the taxing entities, while just the additional property tax went to pay off the bond. The property did not come off the tax roll during the 15 year repayment period.

Because of TIF, we were able to attract a major employer and eventually increase property taxes collected. If TIF wasn’t an option, Valmont would have located elsewhere and we would not have benefitted from their presence and value to McCook.

I also wanted to give an update on some other activities happening at MEDC. Currently, we are administering a survey to get the public’s input on Early Childhood Education. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please go to our homepage at www.mccookne.org and you can find a link. We plan on hosting some public information sessions on May 22 and 23 to distribute the survey data and get feedback on your thoughts on how we can improve access and the quality of early childhood education.

We had Brooke Bouck from Nebraska Children visit with our early childhood education providers last Thursday evening. As a part of the gathering, there was conversation about some of the challenges our providers experience and initial conversations on what can be done to improve access to childcare locally.

The McCook Growth Fund Citizen’s Advisory Group met in April to review LB 840 growth fund expenses in the first quarter. There were two disbursements from the Revolving Loan Program to help in the transition with two local businesses from local owners to new local owners. Every month, I add to my list of successful small business owners who are looking to transition out of their business. If you are interested in purchasing an existing business and thought financing would be impossible, let me know and we can explore how our revolving loan can assist in gap financing.

We were fortunate to host the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Director Dave Rippe last week. At the Rotary presentation he shared communities that concentrate on the quality of life and create places where people want to live are attracting workforce and businesses. He also shared that in our 63 most rural counties the creation of 10 jobs is similar to the creation of 1,000 jobs in Omaha. Economic development has expanded from chasing smokestacks to creating inviting communities.

Earlier in April, I had a chance to travel to Lincoln with Kandra Kinne from Cambridge and Megan Spargo from Benkelman. We submitted a $425,000 grant proposal to the Department of Economic Development to create a regional revolving housing fund. We were one of 8 proposals out of the 33 submitted that had a chance to present in front of the Department of Economic Development panel. We continue to look for creative ways to improve our housing stock and hope to hear if we received the grant in the next couple weeks.

We continue to look to conduct business recruitment, workforce development and recruitment, and housing improvements. If you have questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to get a hold of me.

‘Pure Shrimp’ wins Hormel Business Plan competition

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 04.29.19

Tyler McCarty of Pure Shrimp is the 2019 Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition champion.

The Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition had seven strong finalist.

(Brent Cobb – MCC News Information) Tyler McCarty’s idea to bring a shrimp farm to the area – “Pure Shrimp” was named winner of the 2019 Ben Hormel Business Plan Competition and $18,000 through McCook Community College’s Business and Community Education.

“Pure Shrimp” was selected from among seven finalists who presented business plans Friday at MCC. McCarty is working with an advisory firm in Indiana who help establish shrimp farms. This one would be located south of McCook near “M” Hill, and some of the work has already been completed in anticipation of the first batch of shrimp.

The other six finalists will all receive $2,000 to help infuse area business startups and expansion in the area. Those six businesses include: McCook Mechanical Services, LLC; Smart Hopperz, Inc.; Woody’s Small Engine; Anderson Sales; Republican Valley Trucking (Harris Trucking); and 308 Coffee Roasters

There were 21 applications in this year’s competition with 14 semi-finalists awarded scholarships to pay for tuition and fees (about $321 worth) to enroll in the mandatory eight-week on-line Entrepreneurship Business Plan writing course offered through Mid-Plains Community College.

The Hormel Entrepreneurship Competition is a partnership with McCook Community College and Southwest Nebraska area business sponsors, to help local business startups or expansion using business plan writing and a business grant and was open to those in seven Southwest Nebraska counties including Chase, Dundy, Hitchcock, Hayes, Frontier, Red Willow, and Furnas.

Gold sponsors include Community Hospital, McCook Economic Development Corp., McCook Community Foundation, MNB Financial Group and the McCook College Foundation and Mid-Plains Community College. First Central Bank and Pinnacle Bank are bronze sponsors.


DED Director Rippe visits McCook

AREA News, News, Photo Feature - 04.25.19

Director of Nebraska Department of Economic Development David Rippe told Rotary members and guests that his department is “trying to best align the resources that we have to achieve the highest return on investment possible for the state and tax payers.” Shary Skiles/McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. — Communities that concentrate on quality of life and basics like adequate housing and a trained labor pool are more successful in supporting and attracting businesses, a state official told the McCook Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Read the rest of the story here.