New Study Announced As Troubling Housing Numbers Released


A new study was announced Wednesday as troubling numbers were released in another ongoing study on housing.

The Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation spoke on both reports at a Citizens Review Committee meeting.

EDC President Randy Gard said the new eight-month strategic business study will start April 3.

It's just the latest research Grand Island leaders are heading, but Gard said all of them are warranted.

He said it's simply time to get answers on where the community is heading.

"The strategic plan is to really get the foundation set for economic growth and business development growth over the next five years and to do that you need to start with information," said Gard.

The G.I. EDC hopes to find out how competitive Grand Island is, with a business development strategy and a plan to implement it and details on each of the community's sectors.

Hall County/G.I. Convention and Visitor's Bureau Director Brad Mellema said when sectors like health and education do well so does tourism.

"Absolutely there's room for growth in our sector and you want to do it responsibly. That's why a study like this can be so helpful," he said.

As this study gets going, new numbers were released on an ongoing study on housing. Gard calls the need scary.

"1,610 homes over the next five years. Over 500 acres of development," he said. "Even though it's scary, it is a marvelous opportunity if we can capitalize on it."

Gard said having enough housing is critical to attracting businesses.

He said combining these studies with those spear-headed by the city could create a concrete plan that may increase the odds of getting state or federal help.

"I certainly would hope and think that that would open up some funding opportunity for us as a community," said Gard.

He said this latest study is different than the mayor's visioning plan, which is looking at factors like quality of life inside the community. The EDC study will look at external factors, focusing on business.