The Nebraska Legislature’s adoption of the 2022 appropriations budget bill was monumental in our quest to develop an industrial rail park in Lincoln County. It has been 1,059 days since we began that first industrial rail park access conversation with top Union Pacific officials.
A lot of great work and planning went into this project concept over that timeline, including working on legislation the past three years, and specifically in earnest the past two years.
I want to thank former Sen. Groene for his original effort to seek funding and for Sen. Jacobson’s significant efforts in the brief time he has been in the legislature. The past couple of weeks the Senator had to play significant defense to keep the funding secure and the language of the bill intact without amendment. We thank Sen. Brewer for picking up the sponsorship of LB 788 in the interim.
The Revenue Committee of 2021 and the Appropriations Committee of 2022 were outstanding to work with and so incredibly supportive and understanding of our efforts. As Appropriations Committee Chairman, Sen. Stinner of Scottsbluff put the funding into the overall appropriations budget bill and that move also proved beneficial.
I especially want to thank our outstanding and dedicated board of directors and our economic development committee members the past three years who put their nose to the grindstone continuously on this project, along with our staff, especially Cassie Condon.
It would not have happened without the cooperation and support of the Union Pacific Railroad, Village of Hershey Board of Trustees and staff, Lincoln County Commission, City of North Platte, Quality Growth Fund Committee, utility providers, along with landowners Dennis Steffes and Bruce Miller for their outstanding cooperation and partnership. The electric wholesale and retail providers - NPPD and Dawson Public Power were also instrumental along the way.
Everyone has collaborated with us with a “team first” attitude exerting a lot of patience and perseverance along the way.
All the groups and individuals that helped provide legislative testimony both years is also greatly appreciated and impacted the strong legislative support we received.
To finally cross this hurdle after 75 years of rail access restriction in Lincoln County, is truly remarkable.
The past week or so, Sen. Jacobson and I have been playing defense as other communities were trying to get amendment changes to the language of the bill that may not have been favorable for our funding position.
As you are aware our rail park funding application is pending with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and once signed into law by the Governor- the legislation will be better defined as far as the funding guarantee and allocation. We look forward to getting under contract with DED so we can begin the multiple steps necessary to continue moving forward.
We did as much preparation and planning as we could do to get to this point. It made no sense to go any further until we knew the funding was secured, as no expenditures count that have been spent prior to signing a contract with DED. Once that is done, we will do our due diligence and know more specifically the timeline involved.
We continue to work with potential industry prospects that may locate at the rail park once it becomes a reality and now, we can begin working through the various steps with the Village of Hershey, Lincoln County Commissioners, City of North Platte and with the various utility providers on potential utility upgrades those industries might need.
We can also begin in more earnest on the engineering design, as well as continue our quest to also get the acreage designated as inland port authority. Lincoln County Commission will play an instrumental role in our quest to get that designation. We should know the rules of engagement on the inland port authority application later this year, probably by this summer.
We feel confident the initial steps of the rail park’s development will start to unfold in 2022 and continue for the month and years to follow.