By Don Ogle 

Economic development on city council plate

 


Economic development will be a big part of discussion at tonight’s Sidney City Council meeting, as members consider approval of an economic development study and marketing strategy, as well as renewal of the city’s economic development plan.

In late May, the city solicited qualification information and bid proposals from economic development consultants, seeking services for evaluation of identification of potential projects fitting Sidney’s needs.

Four proposals were received, and city staff has narrowed its recommendation for two to be considered by council.

The project comes in part from a goal setting retreat in April which placed economic development, both long and short term, at the top of Sidney’s needs. Part of the focus was development of the Sidney Business/Industrial Park, attracting new businesses, and a targeted economic development plan and market strategy.

Part of Sidney’s working economic development arsenal, the LB840 Economic Development Plan, will also come before council as it considers entering a third 10-year plan period.

The LB840 Economic Development Plan was first approved in 1997 and again in 2007. Sidney’s current plan expires at the end of September.

Under the LB840 plan, the city Economic Development Program specifies its intent is to provide well-paying jobs to the citizens of the city by encouraging and assisting local businesses to expand both in job creation and capital investment. It also sets out to recruit new qualifying businesses to create new jobs and expand the tax base. Priority is given to jobs created or retained at or above average wages and benefits for the community.


To finance the program, residents approved a half cent sales and use tax, which raises about $300,000 each year.

If it approves the Sidney Economic Development Plan-2017, the council’s resolution, 20160801, will also approve placing a question on the November ballot asking voters to continue the existing tax.

Council will also consider the employee health insurance program for fiscal year 2016-17, and review budget reports for all departments.

The regular council meeting begins in the council chambers at city hall at 7:15 p.m.

This morning, council began its budget workshop at 9 a.m. The workshop is scheduled to run through the day, until just before tonight’s regular council session. If needed, council will finish its workshop tomorrow.

 

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