When locating or expanding their facilities, businesses are attracted to Nebraska for a variety of reasons: a skilled workforce, quality transportation infrastructure, supportive business environment, appealing lifestyle and cultural amenities, and low electric costs.
Businesses that locate or expand in Nebraska provide more jobs, lower unemployment, increased funding for parks and libraries, and a higher overall quality of life.
Working as members of economic development teams, Nebraska’s electric utilities help bring jobs to our state. We often prepare special electric incentive packages to businesses considering locating or expanding in Nebraska.
Today’s highly automated businesses require low-cost and highly reliable electricity to operate effectively. Momentary interruptions in electric service can throw power-sensitive manufacturing equipment off-line. Bringing that equipment back on line can be time consuming. And, batches of semi-finished components may be discarded if manufacturing equipment unexpectedly shuts down. That drives up costs and interrupts production, and impacts the entire manufacturing process.
Momentary interruptions affect highly sensitive manufacturing equipment. Some interruptions are so brief they cannot be noticed. But, high-tech equipment programmed to run continuously can get tripped offline by even the briefest of interruptions in electric supply.
A growing percentage of manufacturers use electric-intensive equipment to make their products or services. These businesses can’t operate profitably if electric rates are high. The cost of electricity can mean the difference between a profitable business or a shuttered factory.
That’s why Nebraska’s utilities see their main role in economic development as ensuring that electricity is reliable and as inexpensive as possible.
Several businesses have recently located in Nebraska or expanded their existing businesses in part due to our state’s low electricity rates. Some of these success stories include:
- Neapco Components expanded its automotive-equipment manufacturing facility in Beatrice, adding 150 new jobs and 100,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space. The facility’s electricity will be provided by Beatrice Board of Public Works.
- Becton Dickinson increased by about 10% the size of its medical technology manufacturing plant in Columbus. Loup Power District provides electric service to the BD facility
- Tenneco will invest over $20 million in 2011-12 to increase the size of its manufacturing facility in Seward. Nearly 100 new jobs will be created during the course of this two-year expansion. The plant produces pollution-control equipment for off-road vehicles. The City of Seward is Tenneco’s electric company.
- Solbar, a maker of specialty soy products, acquired a large idled manufacturing site last year to better serve a growing U.S. market. The company will invest $16 million in the facility, which is located in South Sioux City. The facility will be served by the city of South Sioux City utility.
- The Katana-Summit Wind Tower Fabrication facility opened in Columbus in 2008. The facility draws on local welding and metal fabrication expertise to manufacture towers for the nation’s growing windpower industry. The facility, which employs about 150 people, gets its electricity from Loup Power District.
- Timpte, the nation’s largest builder of commodity trailers, recently increased the size of its manufacturing plant in David City. That facility uses a wide range of electric-intensive technologies including robotics and computer controlled equipment. The plant received electric service from city of David City.
Companies also value an area’s quality of life, cost of living and educational institutions when they decide to locate or expand a facility. Nebraska has the nation’s 6th lowest cost of living, according to a 2010 study from the Center for Community and Economic Development. The study found that Nebraska scored particularly well in housing, health care and utilities.
In a separate study, Nebraska was named as the nation’s second healthiest state, according to the Associated Press Economic Stress Index.
It’s obvious that Nebraska has a lot going for it. Our state’s locally-owned electric utilities, and the thousands of people who work for them, are proud to contribute to Nebraska’s strong economy and desirable quality of life.