By Roneshia Thomas
From the May / June 2023 Issue
Due to its location, companies in Nebraska can reach 90% of the United States population within two days by car or truck. The state hosts nine major airports, 3,400 miles of railway, and over 300 miles of inland waterways. Nebraska already has the infrastructure in place to support businesses across all industries.
Leading transportation companies like Werner Enterprises and Crete Carrier Corporation recognize the advantages of Nebraska’s transportation system and supporting infrastructure. And, Nebraska’s rail corridor is one of the busiest in the nation.
In January, Governor Jim Pillen announced the creation of a new Broadband Office within the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT). The Broadband Office will be tasked with the following:
- Provide policy-level direction related to the planning and decisions regarding development, operation, and sustainability of high-speed broadband service statewide;
- Work with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to ensure that broadband deployment is strategic, cost effective, and that recipients of funding are accountable for their use of public funds;
- Lead efforts to engage with the communities with critical broadband needs and relevant stakeholders to shape program implementation and operations;
- Collaborate with government agencies to create and maintain an official Nebraska location fabric broadband access map to accurately show broadband availability for all serviceable locations in the state; and
- Develop directives and strategies for the utilization of federal funds, including grants, to improve broadband connectivity across the state.
Nebraska is the only state served 100% by publicly-owned utilities, contributing to the state ranking lower than the national average on the cost of utilities.
Meanwhile, industry in Nebraska is increasingly powered by renewable energy sources. It was reported by the state that 20% of the power statewide comes from renewable sources. Almost every state has a public power utility, but Nebraska is the only state served 100% by publicly-owned utilities, contributing to the state ranking lower than the national average on the cost of utilities. Pair low utility costs with a cost of doing business that is 8% below the national average, not to mention a right-to-work state, Nebraska welcomes all sectors to expand there.
Having a low cost of housing and utilities makes Nebraska an attractive location for a highly skilled workforce. The state has been ranked #2 Best Early Education System by Wallethub in 2021. Nebraska prides itself on being known for its educational system and programs.
In Nebraska, students can choose between an acclaimed public university, a world-class medical research center, nine state and community colleges, and 20 independent colleges and universities.
York County Uses Creative Workforce Housing Solutions
Like many areas York County, Nebraska communities struggle with housing and workforce. From permanent to short-term, there never seems to be enough to support the community’s growing needs. York County communities, York County Development Corporation, and many other partners are consistently working to increase the number of available quality housing units, both rental and owner-occupied housing. Equipped with housing studies, it is easy to focus on the long-term needs of the permanent workforce who are living close to their employment. However, York County is home to many agriculture processors and other corporations that require housing for a seasonal migrant workforce, as well as being a central location for many contractors working in the region away from home. This need has to be addressed in order for York County businesses to bring in a temporary workforce to meet business goals. Step in EpWorks to reinvent a campus to provide quality housing for this section of the workforce.
EpWorks LLC is a new company that is making it its mission to bridge the gap by breathing new life into an eight-building, 18-acre campus that most recently housed troubled youth but started as an orphanage in the 1880s. The mission behind this campus has always been to support youth and families. The campus has sat mostly empty for years and now is being reinvented into workforce housing for individuals which makes their family units stronger. Although outdated, the buildings are a perfect setup for temporary housing and the setting is beautiful. Renovation began in December and phase one is set to wrap up in May. Once completed, phase one will provide housing for approximately 100 tenants. Each building will be fully furnished and have 10-15 private to multitenant bedrooms, as well as fully updated kitchens and bathrooms, on-site laundry, large hangout spaces, and great outdoor space with grills and picnic tables. Phase two will start in May and will provide efficiency and one-bedroom apartments and should be completed in 2024. Phase three is still in discussion but could see corporate apartments, additional parking, and RV spaces.
In addition to the housing, there is an onsite cafeteria dubbed “The Lunchbox,” which is in the process of getting licensed and will start providing to-go breakfast and lunch in June. There is a goal of expanding to full service in the future. This will provide a valuable service to those staying on the campus, as well as eventually being able to serve workers in the nearby industries.
Visit www.yorkdevco.com for more information.