Advisory committee recommends $$ for sustainable beef

The proposed sustainable beef processing plant will likely receive $ 1 million to help pay for studies to start the project.

City council will have the final say, but usually acts on the recommendations of the North Platte Quality Growth Fund advisory committee. The advisory committee recommended the funds Monday morning in a two-hour meeting.

The city council room was full, accommodating about fifty people.

The money will pay about 10% of an estimated $ 10 million cost in engineering, architecture, planning and other professional services for the proposed plant, CEO David Briggs said.

If city council approves, the money would be given in the form of a loan that would be completely written off when the company reached a payroll of $ 20 million. During this time, interest would accrue on the basis of the prime rate.

Briggs continued to sound the theme of “the right project, in the right place, at the right time”.

“Lincoln County is one of the top five beef producing regions in the world,” he said. He noted that cattle feeders are plentiful in the region, with an immediate supply of corn, and he said Nebraska beef is the best, highly regarded beef in the world, he said.

He said the plant would process 400,000 head per year, including 100,000 cows. The Big Four Packers don’t treat cows. He said the plant would fill a need in the beef market.

Briggs hopes to launch the project this fall and be operational by fall 2023, although it expects it to take another year to reach full production. He told the committee that it is important to start this fall, otherwise six months of time would be wasted.

He said there is a lot of enthusiasm in the industry about the plant.

“A lot of people are watching to see if it’s going to work,” he said. “(We think) people will fight for this product.”

Briggs said the estimated cost was $ 236 million when the project was first designed, but the estimate has risen to $ 325 million due to significantly higher construction material costs.

He said the plant will employ 875 workers and is expected to generate another 1,000 jobs in business support. He said the location is ideal, less than a mile from I-80 and along Newberry Road, a road link expected to be extended to four lanes in the coming years.

He said the factory would only operate during the day, with one shift and very attractive wages for the workers.

The advisory committee.

Citing a study by Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University, he said the plant would generate $ 1 billion for North Platte’s economy.

Committee member Kim Steger asked about environmental impact. Briggs said consultants are studying this and the company will follow the laws.

“We have a lot of companies working on this,” he said.

“Are you advanced enough to know if this is a” buildable “site? Committee member Bob Phares asked.

Briggs said he doesn’t have the final architectural drawings yet, but the designers are “working on it right now.” We will have it before we start.

At the request of committee member Brock Wurl, the committee converted the grant application into a forgivable loan. Wurl also asked for a letter of credit so that “if something goes wrong we don’t miss $ 1 million”.

Briggs reminded the committee that the request was for a grant, not a loan. He said it could take 90 days to deliver a letter of credit from a bank. But committee members Josh Harms and Pat Keenan agreed with Wurl and suggested the loan could eventually be canceled to make it work well for the business. The committee also added the stipulation that the money would not be granted until a redevelopment plan is submitted, which is part of a request for tax increase funding.

“It’s (the requirements) the responsible thing to do, in my opinion,” Harm said.

In response to repeated questions, Briggs admitted that the requirements would not hinder the project, as long as Sustainable Beef could provide the letter of credit when it became available.

The committee unanimously approved the grant. But before that, Mayor Brandon Kelliher allowed 20 minutes for public comment at Wurl’s request.

The first speaker expressed concern about the exhaustion of the portion of the Quality Growth Fund dedicated to small businesses.

Chamber and Development Chairman Gary Person said the Quality Growth Fund is really for a big project like this. The person added that 10% of the growth fund’s income (which comes from municipal sales taxes) is reserved for small businesses and that this part currently stands at $ 900,000. It is not accessible for large projects.

The person strongly supported the project. He said it would be a game-changer in the region’s economic development. He said there was no better fit for the country’s livestock culture, and added that he is up to the challenges.

Dee Fugate, a relative of two residents who live between the proposed site and the confluence of the North and South Platte rivers, said the project must have started long before the public was informed. She said the public did not have enough time to express their opinions.

Fugate expressed concern that the area would be flooded and that schools and hospital would be overwhelmed. However, she said she was not against the project, just the location.

A cowboy spoke up and said it was important for the livestock industry to create opportunities for their children, and that the city’s financial contributions would show their long-term commitment to a sustainable beef industry.

Resident Doyce Williams said the plant will create odors for residents who live on the east side of town, including some hotels. He said rendering, including the process of dehydrating 10,000 gallons of blood each day, creates odors,

Resident Greg Wilke said every great opportunity comes with some risk. He pointed out that there are water reduction berms around the proposed site.

“Everyone is talking about value-added agriculture,” Wilke said. “That’s it.”

Phares reminded the public that City Council will make the final and final decision. He said that no one will be excluded from any regulation.

If the board approves, the money would come from two sources – half from a Northwestern Energy fund that comes from a surcharge on gas bills, and the other half from the Quality Growth Fund.

Railway park

In other cases, the committee also recommended providing $ 200,000 per year for 10 years as a grant to establish an industrial railway park. That money will represent up to $ 30 million from the state of Nebraska, Person said, enough to run the park. The person said two companies were already actively interested in the location and urged the city to be ready to apply for state funds as soon as the money becomes available in early August, as other cities are also interested in the location. money.

“It will be first come, first served,” he said.

The city council will also have the last word on this fund. It should be on the agenda in early August.

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