Panel Denies CCC's Request for Incentives


Citizens reject a proposal from Central Community College, in the search for dollars to improve its welding program.

CCC was asking for $95,000 from the City of Grand Island, through it's local economic development program.

Bob Niemann of CCC said they're hoping to add work stations to train more weldersthat industry desperately needs.

Greg Jarecke is Human Resources Director at the local Case IH plant.

He said, "With 3.6% unemployment or thereabouts nearby, it's a verytight market and we don't have people from all over big cities wanting to come toGrand Island because they just don't know about us well enough yet to realizewhat we have here so we need to continue to develop our young people."

A community advisory panel felt it's a good project, but rejected the use of tax dollars to support CCC, which collects tax dollars itself.

Citizens' Advisory Committee member Tim White said, "It's not that we don't support it, it's that, can weeffectively do this with a right conscience to the taxpayers? That's all."

Member Jim Phipps pointed out voters overwhelmingly renewed the economic incentives last fall, with 74% support. He said voters would have been less inclined to show support, if they knew the money was going to other government entities with tax authority.

The panel unanimously voted to reject the proposal from CCC, but all praised the college for its efforts.

City Attorney Bob Sivick said state law could be interpreted to define CCC as a corporation, but the committee suggested that was a slippery slope, and said citizens expect the money to help create jobs, not buy equipment for a school.

The committee approved two other incentives.One will help Case New Holland.

Jarecke said during the public meeting that they're building 30 combines aday in Grand Island and plan to add 100 staff in a $7 million addition.

Each combine is sold when it leaves the plant. Estimating that each combine costs at least $300,000 -- that's more than $10 million a day in inventory being shipped out of Grand Island.

The committee also approved incentives for Chief Fabrication, a division of Chief Industries.

Company officials said they supply metal products for companies like Case IH and John Deere, and said the strong agricultural economy has been good for business.

Now that the Citizens' Review Committee has weighed in, the proposals will go to the City Council. The committee's votes serve as a recommendation. Council will have the final say.

It was the final meeting for outgoing Economic Development Director Marlan Ferguson. He was widely praised for helping create thousands of jobs in Grand Island.

Ferguson began as Aurora's City Administrator this week.