On February 15th, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the certification of two Inland Port Authorities in the state, one of which is located just outside Hershey in Lincoln County, at a site served by Dawson Public Power District, a wholesale customer of Nebraska Public Power District.
The Hershey Rail Park is a 300-acre site optioned by the North Platte Chamber and Development Corporation. It is located 2 miles north of Interstate 80, directly along U.S. Highway 30. Union Pacific railroad runs adjacent to the site and with a new spur can easily serve any industry located there.
The Municipal Inland Port Authority Act is intended to stimulate the Nebraska economy by incentivizing the development of new industrial hubs and providing the economic development tools necessary to acquire and develop large commercial and industrial shovel-ready sites. Nebraska’s inland port districts are intended to serve as regional merging points for multi-modal transportation and the distribution of goods. Under the Act, an inland port authority may plan, facilitate, and develop its inland port district in conjunction with a city, county, and other public and private entities.
The designation will let raw materials and finished products from or bound for foreign markets go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection checks at the Hershey rail park as opposed to when they enter or exit the country at coastal ports.
Lincoln County, with access to major roadways as well as the Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard, the world’s largest rail-classification yard, is positioned to be incredibly appealing to industrial businesses.
Gary Person, president and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp., told the North Platte Telegram that winning the designation “moves our rail park project up to a whole new status in being able to attract industry, primarily agribusiness, manufacturing and processing.”
Next steps for Lincoln County include appointing a nine-person authority board to oversee the port, as well as continuing efforts to have the Hershey Rail Park declared a foreign trade zone.