economic development program will be up for election in the spring | Local News

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John Grinvalds Editor of the Daily Sun

Beatrice City Council will meet in a special session on Monday, where it is expected to vote to place the city’s economic development plan (LB840) on the ballot in the primary election.

LB840, the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, allows cities and towns to use local tax money for economic development purposes, if approved by local voters. The City first approved its plan in 1992 and then every ten years thereafter.

“It basically enables a community to conduct economic development activities, said Trevor Lee, executive director of NGage. “I believe there are approximately 75 communities in Nebraska using LB840…There are many similarities between them, but communities are adapting and expanding their economic development programs to meet the specific needs of their communities.”

Unlike many other cities that rely on sales taxes for program funds, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said the money for Beatrice’s program does not come from taxes.

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“Today we fund it through the electrical department,” he said. “It comes from electricity revenue.”

Tempelmeyer and Lee said that in the past, program funds have been used to buy land and build infrastructure. More recently they have been used for loans.

“It was used for low-interest loans, gap financing if you will,” Lee said. “Thus, the City is able to fill the void… It’s a way of financing projects that otherwise might not materialize… It’s particularly intended for small and medium-sized businesses. For start-ups. It helps attract business. »

Tempelmeyer said the program is important because it helps strengthen Beatrice’s industry and commerce.

“Economic development is the engine of the community,” Tempelmeyer said. “It gives us the chance to improve the community and keep it from falling behind. This helps us attract new business. It helps us with infrastructure… It even helped solve housing problems.

Lee said the program can often be overshadowed by other questions on the ballot, but he encouraged voters to pay attention and vote for it.

“It’s one of those things that can really fly under the radar because it doesn’t have these burning issues that draw attention,” he said. “There is no tax note behind it. It’s not new. They might make changes to the plan, but that won’t change the spirit of the plan.

Phil Dittbrenner became the owner of Uhl’s Sporting Goods through one of the program’s low-interest loans, granted in 2021. He said the program was a lifeline when the bank he used was at the dead point.

“It’s a great program,” Dittbrenner said. “It’s good for keeping things local, for making it a community.”

Dittbrenner said he felt the City cared about what he was doing and the process took 45 days from when he applied to when he was approved.

To apply for program funds, follow the link on the City’s website. All requests are subject to the approval of the municipal council.

Since 2015, nearly $1.5 million has been disbursed in loans under the program. Loan recipients include Dempsters, Rare Earth Salts, Birchwood, LandMark Snacks, Lottman, Dawgs Hut, Hybrid Tukreys, Midwest Housing, Porter Houses, Warner Investments, Uhl’s and Envision Landscape.

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