LB 840 Up for Renewal Vote in Grand Island

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The Grand Island Chamber of Commerce is the latest organization to endorse LB 840.

"The trickle-down effect is beyond what the businesses would've received as the applicants in the LB 840 program," said Cindy Johnson, president of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce. "Without a doubt, it's been a good investment for the taxpayers of Grand Island."

LB 840 is an economic development program that has been in place since 2003. On election day, Grand Island voters must decide whether to renew the program for another 10 years. Since it was first approved, LB 840 has helped businesses like Love Signs develop and create jobs in Grand Island. In particular, nearly 1,200 direct jobs....and more than 2,100 indirect jobs.

Love Signs owner Brian Henn said the money he received definitely helped him open his Grand Island branch.

"Still would have been able to do it, but it certainly made it more enticing to get started in Grand Island," Henn said.

Advocates say it's important to remember that LB 840 is not simply benefiting a few business owners.

"The impact of LB 840 goes way beyond the businesses themselves that get assistance. It goes to the employees that they're able to hire, it goes to the employee's ability to purchase a home, or increase their spending on a car or groceries," Johnson said.

And while one company, Structured Solutions, did default, supporters say 18 out of 19 is a solid record.

"The successes we've had far outshines the one failure, if you will," said Marlan Ferguson, president of the Grand Island Economic Development Corporation.

No new taxes will be raised if LB 840 is renewed, as the program receives its $750,000 each year from the city's general fund and publicly owned utilities.

"We can show that it's paid for itself many times over. The money, the return on the taxes that are invested is pretty tremendous I think, and very few government programs can actually say they bring money back into the community," Ferguson added.

The issue is listed on the ballot as "Economic Development Jobs Program Renewal." If it does not pass, LB 840 will expire at the end of the September 2013.