Lincoln County Moves Ahead With Inland Port

The Lincoln County commissioners agreed Monday to enter negotiations to buy the 134 acres east of Hershey that was formerly occupied by Greenbrier Rail Services, as the core of a planned industrial rail park where manufacturers could connect to the Union Pacific railroad according to the North Platte Bulletin. In what would become one of the first Inland Ports in Nebraska  The commissioners’ decision was unanimous. It came on the heels of a confirmation late last week that $30 million in state funds is earmarked to develop the park.

The commissioners also formally, and unanimously, agreed to seek designation from state and federal authorities as an Inland Port Authority, with offices located in the former Greenbrier building. The Inland Port Authority would receive direct shipments of goods on rail cars, trucks and airplanes that originated in other countries. The Inland Authority would conduct customs inspections and clear the cargo for distribution in the United States. The process would bypass congested ports on the east and west coasts.

Both the Rail Park and the Port Authority have been discussed for a year or more with little opposition, so the action came as no surprise. These are steps toward preparing infrastructure and incentives for manufactures who want to locate in Lincoln County. Chris Bruns, the chairman of the commissioners, said five locations are expected in Nebraska for Inland Port Authorities. With access to UPRR’s main lines through an existing rail spur to the old Greenbrier plant, and the central location, North Platte is a likely choice.

North Platte Chamber and Development President Gary Person told the commissioners that talks with Greenbrier foretell a price of $4.5 million for the 34-acre site and 153,000 sq. ft. building. Person said adjoining landowners are cooperating with the industrial park project, which is expected to grow to 300 acres as time goes by. Person said the first phase of an environmental study of the area did not turn up any concerns. .

Rail Park funds

Commissioner Bruns said the county would use federal ARPA funds (COVID-19 relief) to purchase the property. That would use about half of the county’s $10 million in ARPA funds. North Platte officials, namely the Chamber of Commerce and Development, applied to the state for the Rail Park funds on Jan. 3. In late March, funds were appropriated by the state legislature. It wasn’t until June 22 that North Platte received a confirmation letter from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

The DED letter means the financial contribution is “no longer speculative. It is firm,” Person said. However, a formal agreement won’t be signed for another 30 days or so. Receipt of the $30 million requires the locality to invest at least $7.5 million to create the park. North Platte previously committed $2 million from quality growth funds for the park, paid over 10 years at the rate of $200,000 a year. As preparations continue, the Chamber & DevCo grows into the unique position of marketing the North Platte area as a potential home for industrial and manufacturing companies at three unique sites, one for trucking and warehousing (Twin Rivers Industrial Park), one for rail (Hershey Rail Park) and one for air (North Platte Municipal Airport).

This weeks Lincoln County Commissioners meeting can be fully viewed with the link provided below: