The Beatrice Community Redevelopment Authority approved sending two Industrial Park projects that could be completed with Tax Increment Financing on to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review.

The first would be a building for Exmark Manufacturing. The city of Beatrice recently approved applying for a Site and Building Development Fund grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development for $250,000 for the building, located at 415 Industrial Row in Beatrice. The second project could possibly be the future home for companies potentially displaced by the first.

The Blue Valley Automation building in the Gage County Industrial Park is currently home to vendors for Exmark and Neapco, City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer said, in addition to serving as the bus barn for Mid States School Bus Inc., which provides the bus services for Beatrice Public Schools.

Exmark builds lawn care products at the current locations in the industrial park. The company has plans to turn the 84,000-square-foot building into storage and office space for the company’s divisional office.

The proposed $8.5 million expansion is in a Tax Increment Financing area, Tempelmeyer said, and things like site acquisition, grading work, site prep, professional fees, street work, lighting, public parking, drainage ditch and similar upgrades fall under expenses that can be done with TIF funds. All told, he said, Exmark would have around $4.4 million in TIF eligible expenses, though the project won’t generate that much revenue.

“As we proceed with this project, if you ask me how much TIF revenue it's going to generate, that's the good question,” Tempelmeyer said. “We need to go have that conversation with the county assessor.”

Exmark has just begun making information about the project available, Tempelmeyer said, and just recently it’s gotten to the point where the city can announce publicly that Exmark is moving forward with the project.

CRA member Lora Young asked Tempelmeyer if the move would displace the businesses currently located in 415 Industrial Row and if there were places for them to go. Tempelmeyer said yes, it would displace businesses, but the next project on the agenda could address that.

R.L. Tiemann Construction of Beatrice approached the city about building a new structure in the industrial park, Tempelmeyer said. Situated between Hybrid Turkeys to the north and Precise Fabrication to the south, the proposed building would be 38,000-square-feet and will be built on spec, he said.

For the proposed building, TIF could be used for things like site acquisition, parking, grading, professional fees and other similar things, Tempelmeyer said, but Hybrid Turkeys used TIF to install sewer and water to their site, so in the case of the Tiemann building, those have already been covered.

While the building wasn’t originally intended to become the new home for businesses at the Blue Valley Automation building, R.L. Tiemann Construction owner and president, Bob Tiemann, said it will be there if they’re interested.

Tiemann said the building is something he’s thought about for a long time. It’s been quite awhile since there was any space available at the industrial park with a building ready for someone to move into, he said, which can be a stumbling block for businesses considering moving to Beatrice or Gage County.

With the industrial park expanding this past year and some nice building sites available for industrial projects, Tiemann said it would be a good idea to take advantage of it.

“We don't have a customer lined up for it right now, so I guess it's a risk,” Tiemann said. “Lot of money involved there, but I think we're going to go ahead and take that risk.”

The 38,000-square-foot project is going to be a steel building, and Tiemann said he hopes crews will start construction in the spring, with a projected completion date in late summer.

Tempelmeyer said the project has an assessed value of about $1.4 million, but that’s not always an easy valuation to make in advance.

“You're trying to give the county assessor to give you an evaluation of a building that's not built yet,” he said. “They're trying to look at how big it's going to be, what kind of construction it's going to be. They're trying to look at some of those things and give you some estimate, but ultimately, they can't give you a true number until you go out and it's built.”

While they don’t have any companies ready to move in just yet, Tiemann said, if the building is a success and it does fill up quickly, they’ll consider building more in the future in hopes of attracting more business to town.

“One of the things that's really hard about economic development, and economic development's not as easy as it sounds--one of the things that's really hard is that if somebody's interested, they want something they can move into,” Tiemann said. “A lot of companies are in a position where they don't have time to wait six months or nine months for a project to get done.”

The CRA approved sending both projects on to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further consideration later this month.