Funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program — combined with teamwork at the federal, state and local levels — has once again helped a Nebraska employer expand and create quality jobs.
Great West Pet Food Holding, Inc., dba Falls City Foods LLC, operates two sister companies in Nebraska that store, process and distribute raw ingredients for the pet food industry. Recently, Falls City Foods, in Falls City, was able to access funding in the form of a CDBG loan to support the purchase of new, more powerful freezer equipment. This effectively doubled its capacity to process meat and poultry for sale to national manufacturers, while creating the demand for an additional 10 full-time jobs.
The CDBG loan was administered to Falls City Foods by regional economic developer Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD), in collaboration with grant recipient the City of Falls City.
A federal program led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, CDBG funding is awarded by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to units of local government for assistance tackling projects that support economic vitality and quality of life.
Falls City Foods’ success comes on the heels of a recent expansion by sister company York Cold Storage I LLC, located in York, Nebraska, which also utilized CDBG funding this year to purchase freezer equipment, with equally impressive results. For both firms, CDBG financing was a means to support a major investment in their company’s future. But the results will stretch even further, generating an economic ripple effect throughout the region.
“We are proud to not only be growing and creating jobs, but to also be expanding our footprint on the local economy,” said Doug Haycock, managing director for Great West Pet Food and both sister companies. “We source a lot of our raw ingredients from Nebraska producers, for example, which supports the local ag industry. We also have close relationships with local trucking companies, and utilize numerous in-state suppliers.”
But the most direct economic impacts are likely to be felt by the low- to moderate-income (LMI) individuals and families slated to benefit from Falls City Foods’ new full-time job offerings. As part of its loan agreement with SENDD, the company will create 10 new positions, primarily benefitting LMI persons.
But the ripple doesn’t stop there. As Falls City Foods repays its required portion of the loan — half, after satisfying LMI job requirements — grant administrator SENDD, a nonprofit economic development organization, will be able to reinvest those funds into other impactful projects in their service area.
“We at Southeast Nebraska Development District are extremely fortunate to work with companies around our 16-county region and witness firsthand the growth that can happen when partnerships and collaborations transpire within a project, such as the Falls City Foods expansion project,” said SENDD Economic Development Specialist Kelly Gentrup.
Now, with the new equipment up-and-running and the demand for pet food nearing historic levels, Haycock says Falls City Foods is growing faster than ever before. CDBG funding, he said — but even more so, Nebraska’s business friendliness and welcoming communities — has played a big role in that success.
“We can’t say enough about the economic development groups both locally and at the state level that have helped us pursue this expansion,” he said. “With their support we have been able to accomplish everything we set out to do and more. We are honestly so excited to do business here in Nebraska, and really look forward to what’s in store for the future.”
For more information about the CDBG program, visit opportunity.nebraska.gov.