Just weeks after Pizza Hut closed its doors in Neligh, there’s already a business prospect for the location.
Neligh Economic Development Director Greg Ptacek told his board during Monday’s meeting that his office has been in contact with the management company in charge of the location at the intersection of Highways 275 and 14 in Neligh, and there is a prospect for the building.
“I don’t think it will last very long on the market,” Ptacek said. “They’re just kind of waiting, and they have to take care of the building and make sure the building doesn’t look like a Pizza Hut because there is a brand image with Pizza Hut. Once they take care of that, the building will be on the market.”
Board chairman Terry Jensen asked Ptacek if he had any more information in regard to why Pizza Hut closed. Ptacek said when the franchise closed, the Neligh Police Department was told it was due the financial issues associated with updating the building.
“Basically, corporate office had wanted them to do updates,” Ptacek said. “It’s managed by a management corporation, and they didn’t think it would cash flow with the business as it is now. So they had two choices - do the updates or don’t do the updates and lose their franchise.”
Ptacek said he’s aware of several other Pizza Hut locations that recently closed due to similar concerns. Neligh’s Pizza Hut opened in May of 1980 and officially closed on Oct. 23.
Meeting Not Held
The City of Neligh’s Re-development Authority was to meet prior to the Economic Development Board, but three of the five members - Ashley Krohn, Dennis Anderson and Brian Funk - were not in attendance.
As is standard procedure, the ED board meeting then began but action did not occur. Because the meeting ended near the time it was set to begin, board members Jensen, Al Stelling and Bill Mowinkel remained present for several minutes longer to allow opportunity for public input; however, no one else arrived.
The only non-board members present included two members of the media and Neligh Mayor Joe Hartz.
Economic Development Updates
No action took place at Monday’s meeting, although Ptacek updated on the board on a potential data center in Neligh.
Ptacek said his office is working with Kearney-based engineering firm Miller & Associates to “identify five or six different sites around Neligh that might work for industrial track or specifically for a data center.”
The board tabled appointments of two board members to the site development and attraction committee until more members could be in attendance.
Code of Conduct Policy
Discussed ensued on implementing a code of conduct policy that included individual contact, truancy, conflict of interest, member relations, confidentiality, public statements, support of board decisions and staff relations.
Ptacek presented the draft and asked members to review it before returning with suggestions or changes to the December meeting.
As drafted, the policy states that a member unable to conduct himself/herself in a manner consistent with the policy would consider voluntarily resigning. Violations to the policy could potentially result in reprimand or recommendation to the City Council to be removed as a board member.
Board members may could be dismissed if a truancy violation occurs, which is standard policy in many organizations, as was pointed out by Neligh Mayor Joe Hartz.
Also at the meeting, Ptacek announced he has been selected to serve as an advisor to the Rural Futures Institute (RFI).
“It’s a group of five or six individuals who will be on a steering committee for them,” he said. “They’ve hired some ex-Stanford professors to come in and do some strategic planning to help form the vision of what RFI can be.”
RFI is part of the University of Nebraska and supports rural communities and regions in building upon their unique strengths and assets.
Ptacek said he attended the RFI’s Connecting Young Nebaskans Summit last month, as did five other leaders in Neligh’s business community who are involved with the newly formed Antelope County Young Professionals organization.
Last week Ptacek spoke at the Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference, where he addressed tax impacts of wind turbines in Antelope and Boone county. About two-thirds of the 400 people in attendance were at his breakout session, he said.
Ptacek has also been working with Neligh-Oakdale school officials after receiving a reVISION grant. The grant is aimed at providing an opportunity to analyze and transform career education systems in order to improve the local workforce.
He said the reVISION process includes holding a community meeting on Dec 8. for businesses to provide input on how the school’s curriculum can better pair with local needs.