North Platte City Hall

North Platte City Hall, 211 W. Third St.

A trio of Quality Growth Fund applications, one of which would help small North Platte businesses get emergency federal loans due to COVID-19, will be taken up Wednesday by the QGF Citizens Review Committee.

Also on the agenda for the panel’s 10 a.m. meeting are proposed matching grants to help design an industrial “rail park” in Lincoln County and host a Nebraska Main Street Network workshop in North Platte this fall.

The QGF meeting at North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp. will be by conference call due to the coronavirus outbreak and the small size of the chamber’s meeting room, President and CEO Gary Person said.

A March 17 executive order by Gov. Pete Ricketts allows public bodies to provide public access electronically under a temporary waiver of parts of the state’s Open Meetings Act.

North Platte residents may access the QGF meeting by dialing 669-900-9128. The meeting ID number is 932-819-075, and the password is 758459.

All three requests for grants from QGF’s dedicated city sales-tax funds would have to be ratified by the City Council. Its next regular meeting is April 7.

The chamber itself submitted a $250,000 QGF grant application to reimburse small businesses who seek professional help in applying for low-interest “economic injury disaster loans” from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

If the committee and City Council approve, a business hiring “outside professional services” to prepare an SBA loan application could receive up to $2,500 to offset that cost.

To gain the reimbursement, businesses would have to provide proof of their qualifying expense after the SBA application is submitted, Person said.

Regarding the other QGF applications, neither of which involves COVID-19 issues:

» The chamber is seeking $75,000 to help it apply for a competitive Nebraska Public Power District grant to design a rail park. The application deadline is April 10.

NPPD’s Site Ready Assistance Program offers up to $25,000 toward developing industrial parks on sites served by NPPD or one of its wholesale electrical partners. No more than two sites are chosen each year.

Person said Union Pacific Railroad officials have been helping the chamber identify possible sites for a new industrial park with direct access to the U.P. tracks.

But “a rail park is a complicated matter in its design,” he added.

» The state Main Street program is seeking $4,800 to stage a workshop in October or November on redeveloping “underutilized” upper floors of buildings in Nebraska’s downtowns.

Given the completed Prairie Arts Center renovation and upper-floor remodeling by other building owners, “North Platte’s downtown is ripe for this,” Person said.

The $4,800 would cover 40% of workshop costs as a local match. The rest would come from a “certified local government” grant through the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Office.

North Platte qualifies for such grants because it has CLG status with both the state office and the U.S. National Park Service, Person said.

Citizens Review Committee members Wednesday also will continue discussions on when to ask North Platte voters to renew the QGF program for 10 more years.

Panel members had planned to review the matter with the City Council at a nonvoting work session Monday. It was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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