About the Economic Opportunity Program
The Nebraska Department of Roads' rapid response Economic Opportunity Program helps attract and sustain economic growth across the State by making local grants for strategic transportation improvements that better connect businesses to Nebraska’s statewide, multi-modal transportation network. The primary goal of the program is to attract or retain jobs and private capital investment in the state. Funding is strictly discretionary with awards made by NDOR based on careful review of the merits of each application as it is received, and in consultation with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Typical awards are below $500,000.
- Projects must show a clear need for transportation improvements that will enhance economic prosperity within the State of Nebraska.
- Projects must either lead to immediate creation or retention of permanent, high quality, private sector jobs, or to new private capital investment in Nebraska. New jobs must be at or above the median wage for the applicant’s region.*
- Only local public entities (e.g. Nebraska cities, counties, or MPOs) can apply for EOP funding, but NDOR encourages supporting participation by private sector beneficiaries.
- Applicants must provide matching funds equal to at least 25% of the total eligible transportation project costs. Monetary matches are preferred, but in kind contribution are permitted. Other state funds cannot be used as part of the local match.
- EOP funds may only cover transportation-related costs.
- EOP funds may not be used to support certain population-serving or location-specific development, such as retail and restaurant establishments or mining. See the definitions section for a full list of ineligible industries.
- EOP funds may not be used to support speculative opportunities with no link to a specific and immediate business prospect.
- By Nebraska law, an economic impact assessment of the project must show a positive economic impact. NDOR will conduct this assessment based on information provided by applicants in their application material.
- A contract between the public sector sponsor and private firm undertaking development will be required. A sample contract will be provided to applicants by NDOR.
*Regions and corresponding median wage will be as defined by the Nebraska Department of Labor at http://neblswages.nwd.ne.gov/eds.php
Private Sector Involvement and Confidentiality
Any business that will benefit from an EOP project must be identified to NDOR and is expected to provide credible evidence of development plans for the site served by the project.
Recapture of Funds
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that funds received through the EOP are used to aid development that either creates or retains jobs, or results in significant capital investment in Nebraska. Funds used in projects that do not meet this basic program goal are subject to recapture by the Nebraska Department of Roads.
All applications will be evaluated based on their merits in the following areas:
- 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
Applications will be reviewed by a panel of NDOR program staff with input from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (NEDED).
How to Apply
NDOR will consider applications at any time.
Potential sponsors should complete a Letter of Interest (LOI) then contact Korey Donahoo at Korey.Donahoo@nebraska.gov to discuss the opportunity in detail.
If the LOI is accepted, applicants will be asked to complete and submit a full application. Assistance from NDOR is available during the application process.
After receiving a complete application, NDOR will notify the applicant of its decision as quickly as possible. NDOR is committed to making decisions at the speed of business, and will make every effort to provide a response within 30 days of receiving a completed application.
Successful applications will result in a contract between NDOR and the applicant outlining the conditions under which funds will be transferred to the applicant. The timing of the transfer of funds will depend on the progress of the transportation project and the project meeting prescribed milestones. NDOR recommends scheduling at least 60 days from the transmittal of plans for the required permitting process.
Capital Investment - Private sector spending on buildings, equipment, or other tangible fixed assets for the purpose of long term business production.
Development – The private sector business investment that requires the transportation improvement.
Economic Impact Assessment – A project’s economic impact will be estimated based on the in-state job creation and capital investment described in the application. This estimate will be compared with the total state investment in the project, which includes the EOP grant and any other state funding sources, to ensure the overall impact is positive. NDOR will conduct this assessment using an input-output model as part of the application review process.
Firm – The private sector entity that will be undertaking the business development supported by the EOP project.
Immediate Development Opportunity – A situation where a private sector business development is likely to begin in the next 6 months.
Ineligible Industries* – Generally, any business whose primary function is to serve existing population needs, such as shopping, restaurants, and entertainment, or location-dependent activities that will be conducted in the state regardless of investment decisions, such as mining. See the current list of ineligible industry NAICS codes below. This list is subject to change by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
11 – Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting
21 – Mining, Quarrying, Oil and Gas Extraction
22 – Utilities
23 – Construction
44-45 – Retail Trade
53 – Real Estate and Rental and Leasing
Professional Services with more than 70% out of state sales or services
61 – Educational Services
62 – Health Care and Social Assistance
71 – Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
72 – Accommodation and Food Services
81 – Other Services
In-Kind Match – Any transportation project element that the applicant can provide in-house, in lieu of paying for directly, such as design services or right of way contribution.
Local Match – Any non-state funds brought by the applicant to pay for the transportation project.
Non-Speculative Development – Potential development tied to a specific and identified private sector firm.
Priority Industries – Industries of strategic importance to the state, as determined by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (NEDED). See the current list of priority industries below.** This list is subject to change.
Project – The transportation improvement for which the applicant is requesting funds.
Sponsoring Agency – The public sector entity applying for funds, and the sponsor of the transportation project.
Transportation Project Costs – Eligible transportation cost elements include design, preliminary engineering, right of way acquisition, construction, inspection, and in some circumstances, utility relocation.
* Exceptions may be granted at NDOR's discretion for large-scale developments likely to attract significant economic activity from out of state.
**Taken from DED’s Major Industry Clusters: http://www.neded.org/business/sites-a-buildings-locate-a-business/major-industry-sectors-companies