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Grand Island votes in favor of economic development
Funding will continue in Grand Island towards the economic development efforts of LB 840. Voters overwhelmingly approved that funding by a margin of 74 to 26 percent.
Grand Island Economic Development President Marlan Ferguson joined News 5 Wednesday morning to talk about what this means for the future.
Chris Schukei: Let's talk first about LB 840. A lot of people don't even know what that is. What is that?
Marlan Ferguson: Sure, it's actually an economic development incentive program that the legislature passed. LB 840 came about in 1982 as the legislative bill 840 - thus the name. It was actually a local option for the economic development program that cities could pass by the citizens' approval incentives for economic development.
Chris: And so yesterday's vote did exactly what?
Marlan: It extended a new program for another 10 years for the LB 840 program local option for economic development. So that put $750,000 into the program for a year for the next 10 years for incentives, for the growth of the community and recruitment of business and industries.
Chris: A strong campaign over the past few months to try to tell the people of Grand Island how important this was. It was a large margin of victory. Were you surprised at all?
Marlan: It's fantastic. With the turnout we had that's pretty much unheard of, I believe, of 73%-74% with that kind of turnout. We're very pleased and happy that the citizens realized the need for incentives like this to move the community forward. So we're really pleased with the turnout.
Chris: A very important tool for you and people in your business there in Grand Island. A long list of achievements, one very high-profile black eye with it - the Structured Solutions. In hindsight, would you have changed anything that happened with that?
Marlan: Not really. It's kind of hard to say, but, yeah, at the time it was a good project, it was a diversification of our businesses that we're looking at. Obviously, the state was very involved with that. It just didn't work out. The program is set up to be a niche program to help those companies and that was a startup company as well as helping companies to expand and grow. Hindsight, like you say, is there, but, certainly, with all successes we had I think it really overshadows that one project.
Chris: Yeah, you've got another decade of funding now. What projects will we see in the future?
Marlan: We're very excited about what's coming up. We've had a number of projects come forward just in the last couple of months to position ourselves in what I think is going to be another great decade of growth - not only in Grand Island, but central Nebraska. I think the future looks very bright for the area.
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