Photo (left to right): Grand Island Economic Development Director Dave Taylor, Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley, Mayor Roger Steele, and City Administrator Jerry Janulewicz.
City leaders earn ongoing status in State of Nebraska’s economic development certified community program.
The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has recognized the City of Grand Island, Neb. (pop. 51,478) for successful business expansion and housing projects, and ongoing support for new recreational opportunities. This week, Lt. Governor Mike Foley announced the City’s continued status in Nebraska’s Economic Development Certified Community (EDCC) program. DED Business Development Consultant Kelly Gewecke joined Lt. Gov. Foley in honoring Grand Island leaders during a special presentation on Tuesday, September 29.
Grand Island is one of 40 Nebraska communities to earn EDCC status in the program, sponsored by the Nebraska Diplomats and administered by DED. State officials established the EDCC program in 2005 to recognize communities for their preparedness to attract new industries and grow existing businesses. As part of the certification process, qualifying communities must identify a well-defined program that actively engages with their existing business community and offers a supportive environment for welcoming new economic development projects. This includes documenting available sites and buildings, local financing and incentive programs, and a strategic plan for economic development. The City of Grand Island received its first EDCC certification in 2010, and earned recertification in 2015 and 2020.
Company-City partnerships have contributed to a number of successful business expansion projects over the past five years. In 2018, business leaders celebrated the completion of Hornady Manufacturing’s $16 million new Hornady West facility. The 150,000 square foot production and shipping center was built at the site of Grand Island’s former Cornhusker Army Ammunition Plant, and serves as the community’s second location. The bullet and ammunition company opened its original facility in 1949 and expanded to its location on Old Potash Road in 1958. This location still serves as Hornady’s main plant.
Two years ago, Netherlands-based Hendrix Genetics opened an $18.5 million hatchery in Grand Island to expand market opportunities for the multi-species breeding business. The expansion included 11 developmental barns in eight south-central Nebraska counties to support the Grand Island hatchery. The project created 40 new jobs and $40 million in overall economic investments in the community.
“When it comes to recruiting internationally-based businesses, local leadership is crucial in marketing our state’s unique business opportunities,” said Lt. Gov. Foley. “Grand Island’s partnership with Hendrix Genetics not only provided a key, central U.S. location for the company, but also opened the door to new jobs in the entire region. The state appreciates persistent and creative efforts by our EDCC’s to put Nebraska on the map for economic growth.”
Grand Island’s Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act, also known as LB840, has contributed to a number of successful business recruitment and expansion projects since 2015. Cities and villages may utilize LB840, through voter approval, to collect and appropriate local tax dollars for economic development efforts. LB840 assisted in the development of Inland Truck Parts Company’s Grand Island facility in 2018. The company services a variety of truck models and has additional locations in Lincoln, North Platte, Omaha and Scottsbluff. GIX Logistics, a third-party freight management company, utilized LB840 incentives for the addition of new employees.
Last year, Zabuni Specialty Coffee Auction completed its 30,000 square foot facility in the former Sears Department Store, located in Grand Island’s’ downtown Railside District. The company stores and sells Kenyan-grown green coffee to benefit producers in Nyeri, Kenya. Its headquarters in Grand Island include a warehouse, auction space, coffee lab and cupping room.
“Diverse investment opportunities often inspire growth within Nebraska’s entrepreneurial businesses,” Nebraska Diplomats President Dan Duncan said. “Strategic planning created by leaders in our EDCC program encourages them to position their communities for growth by exploring local and state resources. The Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation and the State of Nebraska both had opportunities to participate in developing Zabuni’s facility, and set a precedent for success in EDCC’s across our state.”
Community leaders have prioritized investments in developing its strategic plan, Grow Grand Island, from the City’s Food and Beverage Occupation Tax revenues. Additional investments created the growth of local recreational features such as splash pads, sporting fields and extended hike/bike trails. In addition, more than 1,250 new homes were built since 2015.
Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation Vice President, Mary Berlie, said promoting the City’s quality of life is an important factor in Grand Island’s future development.
“Attracting and retaining a strong workforce often goes hand in hand with additional amenities a community can offer,” Berlie said. “Fostering the development of new homes and social attractions can play a key role in the vitality of a region. Grand Island’s membership in Nebraska’s EDCC program has encouraged our creativity in marketing great opportunities here, and we look forward to continued growth for years to come.”
For additional information on the Economic Development Certified Community Program, Contact Ashley Rice-Gerlach at 308-655-0919 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit