Dear Editor,

Nebraska needs to be competitive. All states have incentives. The state’s economic development professionals are visiting with businesses daily and sitting across the table from them. We know their needs, we know what our competition is.

As western Nebraska economic developers, we were disappointed to learn of one of our state senator’s views on economic incentives this week.

Economic development in this area is highly competitive because of our proximity to other states, especially Wyoming and Colorado who have a more favorable tax system. Incentives are one of the tools that help us compete for and win projects.

Since the incentive program began, Western Nebraska has seen 138 applications – about 45 per legislative district and one or more in every county.

Now is no time to take away these tools, especially when our communities are competing, not just for investment and new jobs, but for workforce.

The proposed LB720, known as the ImagiNE Nebraska Act, was developed with input from frontline economic developers across the state. It revamps the economic incentive program to deliver more transparency, simplicity, and flexibility to “right-size” packages for smaller and larger communities alike. Perhaps even more importantly, it allows faster access to incentives for workforce training and recruitment.

Proudly, LB720 continues Nebraska’s pay-for-performance system – no tax benefits until the thresholds for jobs and investment are met. No excuses. For this reason, a significant number of outstanding tax benefits are expected to expire without ever being claimed.

The incentives program certainly is a life-support program, one for our communities and for our state. Expanding and diversifying our local economies is an important part of reducing tax burden for Nebraskans. Let’s adopt winning strategies that grow our economy and grow our communities.

We urge legislators, citizens and community businesses to help us keep this tool in our economic development toolbox and show their support for LB720. As economic developers, we are anxious to start putting it to work for our communities.

Chelsie Herian, Executive Director, Box Butte Development, Alliance

Deb Cottier, Executive Director, Northwest Nebraska Development Corp, Chadron

Amy Sapp, Economic Development Director, City of Kimball

Janine K Schmidt, Village Clerk/Treasurer, Village of Morrill

Gary Person, President & CEO, North Platte Area Chamber & Development

Starr Lehl, Economic Development Director, City of Scottsbluff

Keith Ellis, Twin Cities Development Corp. Scottsbluff

Melissa Norgard, Development Director, City of Sidney

Mike Burge, Economic Development Director, Valentine

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