GI Voters to Decide Fate of Jobs Program


When does a five dollar investment return ten? That's the track record for Grand Island's job creation program that voters have been asked to renew.

There's been little criticism of the issue this campaign season, despite one notable failure. Campaign organizers point instead to all the jobs that have been added.

Grand Island's economic development program has directly created 1,200 jobs and 2,000 more indirectly.

Civic leaders say they've achieved what they set out to do.

Economic Development Director Marlan Ferguson said, "That was the goal in 2003, was to not only create jobs but increase tax base. That's what we kept telling people back then and I think it's shown it has done that with $36 million payroll just out of jobs that were created from applications that came forward as well as increased valuation from all the buildings being built."

For a community that's built an arena and state fair in the last decade, community leaders say the $750,000 a year investment pays off.

"Certainly we would not have the quality of life opportunities we have today without growth in the community and LB 840 has certainly been one of the reasons we've seen so much growth the last 9–10 years," Ferguson said.

He pointed to all the retail and restaurant growth as secondary jobs created by having good primary jobs in manufacturing fields.

The biggest recipient was Structured Solutions, which went bankrupt this year.

But the other companies created the jobs they promised or the few that didn't hit their goals gave the money back.