Collaborative Approach Helps NGage Deliver Steady Gage County Growth

Collaborative Approach Helps NGage Deliver Steady Gage County Growth Main Photo

11 Apr 2024

Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage) is the economic development organization actively seeking to sustain and grow the Beatrice, NE, and Gage County economy and quality of life. Its leadership efforts and resource delivery for business retention, expansion, recruitment, and community de­velopment help set the region on a course for success.

In March 2023, NGage held a strategic planning session to brainstorm and design the strategies NGage will focus on over the next three years. Those strategies are:

  • Expanding business & industry
  • Building business relationships
  • Youth engagement & talent attraction
  • Gage County is a Community for Kids
  • Housing is abundant, diverse, and affordable

Under that direction, NGage helped Gage County achieve strong and steady growth, with new investments at just under $31 Million in 2023, including $7.1 in new homes alone. Take a deeper dive into these efforts below by strategy, or read the full 2023 Annual Report. 

Expanding Business & Industry

NGage helped facilitate three successful recruitment projects in 2023, with investments totaling $5.6 million and 35 new jobs.

  • Project Goldenrod
  • A testament to Beatrice’s low-cost electricity, NGage helped secure Moonraker Mining, a colocation data services company.
  • Project Value-hash
  • Further proof of Beatrice’s low-cost electricity, NGage helped secure Radiant Tech, LLC, a colocation data services company, to bring five new jobs to Beatrice.
  • Project Monroe
  • Utilizing the City of Beatrice’s LB840 program and Tax-Increment Financing (TIF), Project Monroe will bring a new development along 6th St. & HWY 77 in Beatrice to house Jimmy John’s and one or two other future businesses.

Other 2023 NGage economic development support projects include:

  • Hotel feasibility study with Gage County Tourism to determine the need for additional lodging and create a compelling narrative to recruit a new hotel chain to the area.
  • New development throughout the county totaled just under $31 million in 2023,  with $18 million invested in Beatrice and $11.8 million throughout the county.
  • Hickory Industrial Site - Nebraska’s Biogenic CO2 Industrial Park
  • NGage applied for and was awarded $4,350 for the NPPD Site Readiness Grant  to assist in getting the site ready for market.
  • An ALTA survey was performed to ensure the site is truly “shovel-ready” by indicating its defining qualities. 
  • NGage submitted one Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new recruitment project on the Hickory Industrial Site and is actively working on a Project initiated in 2021. The total potential investment on the site is $1.5 billion, adding 180-200 new jobs.

Building Business Relationships

As a priority strategy in the NGage Strategic Plan, building business relationships is vital to growing Gage County through increased engagement from local stakeholders. The following projects were completed or started in 2023 as a sampling of the many community development projects happening throughout Gage County.

  • SCC Welding Center, Broadband expansions, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), Accuma, Beatrice Mary Family YMCA and Farmers Cooperative with a combined investment totaling $10,500,000 to date.
  • Wymore Road Improvements Project, with CGBD funding of $450,000.
  • McCandless Park improvements, with over $350,000 total investment.
  • Targeted projects to stimulate local economies within Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) through direct investments in events, promotion, and marketing, with a total of $150,000 granted for this project.
  • NGage wrote many support letters in 2023 for Gage County road projects, the City of Beatrice Downtown Revitalization CDBG grant, broadband projects and more.

Youth Engagement & Talent Attraction

Young Professionals Gage County

2023 saw the relaunch of the Young Professionals Gage County (YPG), a networking and support organization for young professionals in the area. As a collaboration by NGage and the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce, YPG is a coordinated effort to increase civic engagement by providing opportunities to empower, connect, and develop future leaders of the Gage County area. Tremendous support has resulted in nearly 50 members joining the group to date.

Manufacturing Day

One of the keys to success in Gage County by companies like Kinney Manufacturing (J&J Wire), Rare Earth Salts, Neapco and Landmark Snacks is their willingness to educate the community about their opportunities. A 2023 example was the October Manufacturing Day Event held as a partnership between NGage, area public schools, and manufacturers that featured 130 students from five schools touring manufacturing facilities to better understand area career possibilities.

Job Fair & Career Expo

NGage collaborated with Beatrice Public Schools for an April 2023 job and career fair for high school students. There were 224 students in attendance at this event who each visited with at least five of the 29 businesses present. Of those students, at least nine participated in a job shadow or internship or secured a job.

Gage County is a Community for Kids

Childcare is a critical piece of community infrastructure that allows employers access to needed workforce at its fullest capacity. NGage dedicates much of its efforts to seeking partnerships to address childcare availability and affordability. Gage County faced a significant crisis in 2023, with a capacity deficit of 339 children without access to licensed childcare due to a shortage of providers.

In response, the NGage Board of Directors elected to create a stand-alone non-profit organization to house and maximize the Gage County Community For Kids (C4K) initiative. Leaders directed over $700,000 in C4K grant funding to providers for operations/equipment or training opportunities. As a result, capacity was increased by 43 spots in Gage County, but the net 2023 gain was only one spot due to multiple providers closing their facilities.

Housing is Abundant, Diverse, and Affordable

Through indirect support and championing, NGage works with developers, local organizations, community leaders, officials, residents and landowners to encourage development, foster connections with developers and other means to help needed projects occur.

One example is Blue Valley Community Action, awarded $661,000 through the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund (NAHTF). Overall, Gage County saw over $7 million in housing investments in 2023.

Be Part of the Growth in 2024

NGage offers tools and support in its effort to increase the economic opportunities and quality of life of Gage County. Contact us today to join this forward-thinking, strong-working,  friendly community!