Falls City EDGE, southeast Nebraska’s economic development engine, held its annual banquet Wednesday evening at the local Elks Club. During the evening, Charlie Radatz, chairman of the Investor & Community Relations Committee, presented the 2013 EDGE “Investor of the Year” acknowledgements.
Radatz said his committee has, in many ways, “functioned as two committees with very inter-related functions. We have had a very energetic group of individuals who served on our Investor Recruitment team and assumed the responsibility of recruiting new and retaining existing investors.”
Those efforts, said Radatz, resulted in 75 new investors and $24,299 in new investment in 2013. The number of member investors expanded to 161, he said.
“Tonight we honor a company that has made one of the largest investments in our community by a single business that I have seen in the 32 years I have resided in this community,” said Radatz, as well as “two leaders of what we are proud to say is our number one industry in Richardson County, namely agriculture.”
The company honored was Consolidated Grain and Barge. Radatz pointed to the process that brought CGB, the rail grain-handling facility, to Falls City. He cited EDGE Executive Director Beckie Cromer, who was contacted and “provided the company the assistance they needed in working with local landowners and government officials to make location of the facility in Falls City both physically and economically possible and practical.”
As a result, CGB invested $25 million in a development completed in the fall of 2013. Area businesses benefited to the tune of $1.5 to $2 million in contracts. More than 25 local businesses provided good and services during CGB construction. Twelve full-time jobs were created, Radatz said, and Falls City “has quickly become a new destination for farmers and elevators from a much larger area to market their grain at competitive prices, not 60 and 100 miles down the road but close to where it was raised.”
Radatz said CGB is not just a “passive investor,” but is active in the community. “They immediately recognized the importance of EDGE in forging the future of our community and they joined our ranks as a $5,000 Visionary Investor and are providing leadership on our EDGE Board of Directors,” he said. CGB has also supported community organizations, including Falls City Recreation.
Two new farmer members, Jerry Duerfeldt and Andy Dunn, were saluted. Their support is “most essential to the success of our community,” said Radatz.
“Jerry and Andy understood how producers would benefit from having a nearby unit-train facility bidding for the grain they produce,” Radatz said. “While not city residents themselves, they explained to city officials during public hearings how the entire community would benefit from a competitive market place and the potential for greater farm income, improved local retail sales, additional jobs and long term increases in property tax base.
“But they did not stop there,” Radatz said. “They collected money from farmers and other supporters and paid for a newspaper ad, with a photo (Falls City Journal) of those same supporters at the CGB construction site demonstrating their support.” In addition, they became EDGE investors and volunteered to serve on the Investor Recruitment Team, Radatz said, recruited investors and assisted other team members identify potential investors.
“In short,” said Radatz, “they helped us all understand that farmers, city businesses, non-profits and laborers are all part of one community and how that entire community benefits when instead of focusing on the ‘good old days’ we invest our time and treasure to make our future better than today.”
During the business meeting, Radatz was elected for another term as a general director.
EDGE president Bart Keller invited anyone who is interested to become involved in “the exciting things EDGE is doing” to talk with Mrs. Cromer, a board member or another EDGE member. “We would truly love to have any of you working with us. I urge you to get involved and help make a difference in Falls City and Richardson County,” Keller said.
Dr. Dan Hanson, President of Peru State College, was the evening’s speaker. Dr. Hanson provided an update on the growing and improving PSC campus. He noted the support PSC receives from Richardson County.
The dinner for the banquet was catered by The Wooden Spoon. Brian Voos of the Northridge Church gave the opening prayer.