Corn barn

A corn barn stands in fields west of Highway 15 in Nebraska.

Nebraska agribusiness has a powerful ally. The Nebraska Public Power District’s economic development office works to recruit new businesses to the state and to retain those that are already established here.

“We work a lot with local communities,” said NPPD economist Brian Williams. “Our customer communities, the state economic development and non-profit organizations such as AFAN (Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska).”

Trade shows provide the main opportunity to encounter new businesses. NPPD partners with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and attends the trade shows to actively recruit firms that would work well in Nebraska, he said.

“We use a broad approach,” Williams said. “We also work with consultants to identify companies looking to expand into Nebraska.”

Equally important is the retention of agribusiness that is currently in the state. Williams said NPPD works with these enterprises to find out what challenges they are facing, what they need and what the district can do to facilitate those needs.

One success story he shared was the expansion of the Scoular Company into Seward, Nebraska. According to their website, Scoular is an employee-owned company based in Omaha, Nebraska. Their new $50 million pet food ingredient freeze-drying facility in Seward will create nearly 100 new jobs, they said.

Williams said that another area where NPPD has been fairly active is in bio-fuels recruitment. According to UNL’s CropWatch, between 2015 and 2017, Nebraska’s value of production for ethanol and co-products averaged $3.8 billion.

Although they have yet to become active in the emerging hemp industry in Nebraska, Williams said they are tracking its development.

While most people know that NPPD provides energy to Nebraska, they also provide dynamism to the state’s signature industry — agribusiness.

Jon Burleson can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.  

Jon Burleson is the Midwest Messenger reporter, based out of eastern Nebraska. Reach him at jon.burleson@lee.net.