Providing job opportunities is vital for growth in any small community. Making it easy for potential businesses to locate in those communities is the key to attracting job opportunities. The City of Wayne (pop. 5,660) and Wayne Area Economic Development (WAED) had been working hard to attract new businesses to relocate there. However, Wayne was frequently unable to respond to RFPs because of a lack of available buildings and/or land. This lack of an available industrial building was limiting Wayne’s potential for economic development.
The City, WAED and Wayne Industries had been working towards constructing an Opportunity Building (spec. building) for a few years. Such a speculative building would give additional flexibility in recruiting industries. In planning for the building, a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was identified as a promising source of funding. Wayne worked with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD) in ensuring a complete application package. Wayne was awarded $255,000 in CDBG funding in November 2007. The CDBG funding was matched with sources from the City, WAED, Wayne Industries and local banks.
The CDBG funding helped achieve completion of the speculative building. The building was eventually sold to William Form Engineering Corp., a manufacturer for the construction and fastener industries, and will create ten jobs for low-to-moderate income residents in the Wayne area.
Wes Blecke, executive director of Wayne Area Economic Development, said “There is no way Williams Form Engineering would have considered Wayne had we not had a building available. The state made it possible through CDBG for Wayne to fund the Opportunity Building in a way that worked for our community.”
Nancy Braden, finance director for the City of Wayne, said “We appreciate DED’s willingness to fund speculative buildings. Williams Form [Engineering] personnel tell us that they have been watching the site for over a year. When management was ready to expand, they felt the shell building allowed them to not only meet current needs, but plan for future expansion. We feel this will spur other expansion in the area.”