GOTHENBURG, Neb. – The Gothenburg Improvement Company has announced it is under contract to purchase the former home of the Baldwin Filters manufacturing plant with the intention of attracting another employer to Gothenburg. Those efforts are thanks to a community-wide push to approve an LB 840 economic development program in response to the announcement in October 2017 that the plant’s operations would be consolidated with the facility in Kearney.
“We are excited for the opportunity to purchase this asset for the community of Gothenburg, and we have already begun marketing it to prospective businesses,” said Nate Wyatt, President of the Gothenburg Improvement Company (“GIC”). “This is the result of a tireless effort on the part of community leaders to provide a solution to the Baldwin announcement.”
After the announcement, the GIC held meetings with community members, including employees impacted by the announcement, to provide support and to outline potential responses. Part of that response was the passage of the LB 840 program through a special election in February of 2018 which gave the City the ability to use economic development sales tax funds for the purchase of the building. In that election, Gothenburg residents overwhelmingly approved the measure by nearly a seven to one margin. The GIC has submitted an application to the City for use of those funds to complete this purchase.
“If nothing else, this shows the importance that Gothenburg residents place on taking care of our own. As a community, approving the LB 840 measure was a way to say we care about those who were impacted by the Baldwin announcement and want to do something about it,” Gothenburg Mayor Joyce Hudson said.
While the announcement to relocate the plant, and its employees, to the Kearney facility came in late 2017, the plant did not close until late 2018. “During that time, we worked diligently to communicate with the owners of the building to come to an agreement for this purchase,” said Wyatt.
The benefits of the GIC owning the building extend to ensuring that the right business takes Baldwin’s place. GIC’s goal is to recruit a business to replace the jobs that were relocated to the Kearney facility. “Our mission at GIC is to promote our community in a way that leads to job growth,” Wyatt said. “We have been successful in the past in recruiting companies like Baldwin, Frito Lay, and Monsanto (Bayer), and we look forward to finding that next business to partner with for the benefit of Gothenburg.”