The Constant Challenge of Economic Development
April 13, 2022
There's a quote that when you have a good job, keep an eye out for the next one. Likewise, some business managers live by the principal of advertise when business is good, and advertise more when business is struggling.
The same can be said about economic development. When things are going well, look for the next opportunity, and when the community is struggling, work even harder.
Economic Development starts with believing in your community, according to Sidney City Manager David Scott. Scott reviewed some of the changes that have occurred in the community in the last few years. The list includes 12 new companies that have hung their name plate, and in many cases expanded more than expected.
Scott said the City of Sidney participates in the LB840 program. Legislative Bill 840 provides funds for participating communities for tax-funded economic development programs, according to firstfivenebraska.org. Scott said the City of Sidney manages its LB840 differently than some communities. A business that petitions for funding receives funding over an agreed period of time, with specific goals that must be met. An example would be if a manufacturing company is interested in the Sidney area, it may be offered funding if it meets staffing and payroll objectives over a specific amount of time.
“The way we do things is different than other communities,” Scott said. “Our method has been copied by other communities.”
The intent, Scott said, is to ensure the business is committed to the project.
“We want to have businesses here for the long run,” he said.
Businesses that have opened in Sidney in recent years include Lukjan Metal Products, Agri-plastics, Vitalix, Freedom Yurt, UST Global, GL Huyett, Nelnet, NexGen Outfitters, Worldwide Trophy Adventures, Highby Outdoors, Recircled and ALLO Communications. Highby Outdoors, Freedom Yurt and GL Huyett have moved to bigger locations since opening in Sidney. The City has also assisted in the expansion of Renkowski Property Development LLC, 308AG and Adams Industries.
Sidney's economic development programs have also assisted with signage and facade grants.
The City is currently working on projects in hopes of improving the housing availability.
“We're in the same situation everyone else in the state is in,” Scott said.
Scott and the city council are working on methods to encourage contractors and developers to build housing in the Sidney area. Housing and available jobs go hand-in-hand in economic development, according to Scott. The city council has updated the LB840 program to include housing, and blight and housing studies have been conducted. The City has also applied to the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and the Rural Workforce Housing Fund (a revolving loan fund).