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HIDC to Become Part of Prosperity Project

posted to: Business news section by PCDC on 4/5/2012

HIDC Shaped Holdrege’s Business Landscape
Holdrege would have looked very different from today’s progressive community if a dedicated group of forward-thinking individuals had not given their time and talents through the Holdrege Industrial and Development Corporation to bring thriving businesses to the community.

HIDC has done a lot for Holdrege, bringing in recession-proof businesses like BD and developing a vibrant medical community that draws patients from a wide area. But now HIDC’s board and stockholders have voted to dissolve, putting its resources behind Phelps County Development Corporation’s Prosperity Project and the Holdrege Chamber of Commerce. This move will help insure that Holdrege and Phelps County has the resources needed to grow the community into the future.

John Boehler, one of HIDC’s current board members, said it was a decision that had been debated for many years before the final vote was taken. “HIDC had a really huge purpose in the past, but as time went on, PCDC was fulfilling the needs that we were doing before,” Boehler said. “I think we’re at a point now where it just makes sense to do this.”

Ted Titus, treasurer of HIDC, said the decision to merge HIDC into PCDC’s Prosperity Project is an opportunity to accomplish much more since both organizations are focused on mutual objectives. “Our community has various entities trying to accomplish the same thing so it makes sense to consolidate,” he said. “We’re in a position with PCDC that we are proactive looking down the road. PCDC has the staffing, the tools and the resources needed to market Holdrege.”

HIDC’s balance of money and land will be split between PCDC’s Prosperity Project, a five-year growth initiative to bring new industry to Holdrege while supporting existing businesses, and the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce, who is pursuing a downtown revitalization grant.

The Prosperity Project will receive five acres of land currently owned by HIDC along Highways 6 and 34 adjacent to BD and Scoular Grain, as well as $100,000. The Chamber will receive approximately $47,000.

“The Chamber is thankful for this generous monetary contribution,” said Michele Ehresman, executive director of HACC. “The board of directors will give thoughtful consideration on how to utilize these funds in a manner which will benefit our community through the Chamber’s Program of Work. HIDC was an important part of the Chamber’s history and success, and it is our intention to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us.”

Celebrating the Past
HIDC was an integral part of the development of today’s Holdrege. It was formed in April 1947. That first board was made up of Richard Brown, Paul Burgeson, Robert Miller, Delbert Leffler, LaMonte Lundstrom, Oscar Swanson and Roy Magill. At first, the organization was called the Holdrege Housing Group and its goal was to provide housing for returning World War II veterans, but once those houses were completed, the group decided to focus on enhancing the business climate in Holdrege, at the same time changing its name to the Holdrege Industrial and Development Corporation. HIDC has two major shareholders, the Holdrege Chamber and Kinder Morgan.

Bruce Hendrickson’s father, Carl, was one of the first group of business leaders involved in HIDC. Bruce also was involved in later years. “We were the arm that was doing what PCDC is doing today,” Hendrickson said. “Holdrege has always been a pretty progressive little community, and if we had not had this group, it would have been a far cry from what we have today. They played a very important part in the growth of Holdrege.”

Face-to-face communication was crucial to HIDC’s recruitment efforts. Tim Anderson, current board president of HIDC, said Roger Allmand, an HIDC board member for many years, volunteered the services of his plane and his flying skills as HIDC traveled across the country recruiting doctors. Paula Titus, whose husband Louis was a member of HIDC, remembers the fun of entertaining those prospective physicians and businesses.

Allmand has always been grateful for HIDC since the corporation helped his family’s business during a time of need. HIDC purchased unused Allmand Brothers land in the 1980s to help the company’s cash flow and then sold it back to them when the company had stabilized. “They were very interested in trying to help us when we were struggling,” he said.

Del Pearson, who was an HIDC board member when BD was persuaded to build a plant in Holdrege, said HIDC was his favorite organization because it helped do so much to develop Holdrege into today’s community. “We’d get a rumor of a firm or company or individual who wanted to locate somewhere in Nebraska and we’d try to run them down and get a hold on them and bring them in to look at the town,” he said. “When we’d find a good hot prospect, it was quite secretive. We didn’t want other towns stealing them.”

Vicki Westcott, whose husband, Marv, was an HIDC board member for almost three decades, said HIDC was an organization filled with people who had a broad vision of exactly what Holdrege needed. “They did what they said they were going to do,” she said. “There was a mutual trust relationship that they developed with the people that they were talking to.” She said HIDC kept the community economically strong and understood that reinvestment in the community helped everyone.

“You can point to a lot of real positives that came about because of HIDC,” Tim Anderson said. Much of that can be attributed to strong board members, he said. Anderson feels that the biggest benefit HIDC brought to Holdrege was BD. HIDC purchased a 30-acre industrial tract on the western edge of Holdrege. That industrial tract was part of the package that brought BD to town. Artistic Woven Labels also had a factory there at one time. BD and Lee Janssen Motor Company now sit on that industrial site. HIDC also brought Scoular Grain to town and helped Phelps Memorial Health Center’s board of directors build a hospital, a medical clinic and recruit physicians to staff those medical facilities.

HIDC was very active in the developing the community, but now its board has decided to pass the baton to PCDC’s Prosperity Project and the Chamber’s Downtown Revitalization program. Anderson said he hopes HIDC’s contribution of land and money will help PCDC add more tools to its economic development toolbox. “We want a shovel-ready site for industrial prospects, and we think giving this money to PCDC will help them accomplish that goal sooner rather than later,” Anderson said.

Roger Allmand, co-chairman of the Prosperity Project, said HIDC has had a positive effect on the community, and this gift will be a significant help as the Prosperity Project pursues its five specific initiatives. Those five initiatives are to create 200 new primary jobs in Phelps County, attract new businesses and industry, support entrepreneurs and existing businesses, recruit additional workers and their families, and market the benefits of Phelps County to the world. “The gift is tremendously appreciated,” he said. “The funding and the gift of land will be well used.

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