WORK NP pays off for local professionals

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. KNOP Margaret Jackson never really considered North Platte a destination point.

That is until she heard about the WORK NP program last spring.

"I really enjoy the community but, it was just trying to figure out where I wanted to go and this program really helped finalize that decision," Jackson said.

The North Platte Area Chamber Development Corporation spearheaded the program in the Spring of 2017 as a way to recruit workers to the area.

"It's a very competitive environment out there in talent acquisition for all companies throughout the Midwest," said Gary Person, President for the North Platte Area Chamber Development Corporation. "So we devised a program that would help match up to $5,000 to businesses and industries that are trying to recruit those key people to cover relocation costs, down payment assistance or college debt which can help pay for that."

The program, which is approaching its second year, has already benefited ten professionals with another ten waiting to get approved.

"They have to make a minimum of a three year commitment to the employer, to the community, because it works as an incentive-based loan performance-based loan," Person said. "So every year they stay with the job, a third of the loan is forgiven."

But time is limited, as the program is set to expire in April of 2020.

"We have enough funding to do approximately 70 new recruits into the area and so we encourage employers to check it out," said Person. "This is all about helping them."

Person said North Platte is one of the top five communities in the country bringing new talent to area because of the program.

In fact, the program has gained attention on national television and newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal.

"People often think that success means being in Lincoln or in Omaha, which is not true," Jackson said. "With a grant like this and an opportunity like this, we can bring those young professionals to get them to stay here instead of just come out here and get their experience and go back east; that is something that we obviously don't want as a community in North Platte. So I think this grant really helps bring young professionals to stay in North Platte."

Jobs must be full-time and pay at least $20/hour within three years to qualify.

Person says he's hopeful the Blueprint Nebraska Survey and the recent housing study results will motivate community leaders to take action on key quality of life projects that will help grow the community.