NDOT Grant Assists Economic Development

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Many times small towns are desperate in their hunt for incentives to reel in economic development to their community. Unfortunately, state statutes often limit what community funds can be utilized to attract businesses and how that money is used. In many small communities there simply isn’t enough available to provide that carrot anyway.

This is where grants and loans to assist in economic development from the state and federal level are able to make that difference. Where they provide the gap financing to set your community apart from others. Or just to make the project numbers work to make it a reality.

NDOT Steps In to Assist Economic Development

The Nebraska Department of Transportation’s Economic Opportunity Program fits that role admirably. The Economic Opportunity Program provides grants for transportation improvements to help connect businesses to the state’s multi-modal transportation network. The grant website states that most of the funded grants will be for under $500,000. However, it looks as though they are reserving flexibility to lure premiere projects like Amazon.

Some of the basic program parameters include:

  • Only local public entities can apply for grant funds
  • Applicants need to provide at least a 25% match for the project
  • Projects are required provide for the immediate creation or retention of high quality private-sector jobs

NDOT’s website doesn’t provide specific guidance as to the type of projects are possible through this grant. Conceivably, a railroad spur to a new manufacturing site is likely an ideal project. Paving a street connection to a new industrial development would also be viable. Maybe even airport enhancements to improve airborne freight opportunities for the prospective business.

Grant Evaluation Criteria

The Nebraska Department of Transportation has the following criteria that they will evaluate applications with:

  • Necessity of EOP grant for enabling business development to occur
  • Whether the development is in a priority industry for Nebraska
  • Number and expected wage level of the anticipated jobs created or retained
  • Level of private capital investment
  • Impact of the development on the local community
  • Local community’s preparedness to support success of the development
  • Applicant’s match level
  • Potential for the project to support future economic development opportunities (as demonstrated by the existence of nearby developable land, suitable zoning or utilities, etc.)
  • Transportation benefits of the project for existing business activity and other system users
  • Grant amount relative to anticipated economic impacts

Review and Approval

To receive funding, potential applicants will need to complete a Letter of Interest (LOI) to NDOT. Successful applicants will then be provided approval to move forward with a full application. Upon receiving the full application, NDOT program staff will then review the application, along with input from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (NEDED). Understanding that speed is of the essence for many projects, NDOT has a stated goal of 30 days for an application response.

For more on the grant program, including the eligibility criteria, check out NDOT’s website for the Economic Opportunity Program.  For links to the Nebraska DOT page and more financial and technical assistance opportunities, check our Rural Resurrection’s Tool Kit page.