International Growth Part of Grow Grand Island Focus

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Grow Grand Island (GGI), the community's strategic plan, will soon complete its first year of implementation. GGI continues to serve as a roadmap to grow and diversify our community's assets. The plan has a healthy balance of quality of life and business development and growth initiatives; both components rely heavily on one another for a strong, well-rounded community plan.

As the thirty-two initiatives were developed to guide the Grow Grand Island Implementation Committee and community leaders through 2019, the Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation took a special interest in the combination of initiatives 1.2 and 5.3. These initiatives are designed to focus on international trade relationships and enhance export opportunities through Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) for local manufacturers in the target sectors of transportation; distribution; manufacturing; and repair, reuse, and recycling. Because Grand Island has access to transportation via air, road, and rail and has an established and vibrant manufacturing sector, Grand Island is well-suited to capitalize on both domestic and international trade opportunities.

While international trade is already strong in Grand Island, Mike Lilienthal, CEO of MRL Crane and Central Nebraska Transload (CNT), is taking the industry to a new level. Mike purchased the former Omaha Paper site located along US Highway 30 in early 2014. Already equipped with rail access from both Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads, Mike began his operation offering warehouse services to area manufacturers and distributors. This allowed for just-in-time inventory and the use of rail to transport goods, significantly reducing transportation expenses for individual businesses. The construction of a 30,000 square foot building expanding over both sets of tracks was completed in October 2015 and allows Mike to further customize and diversify shipping and receiving options to his customers. Currently CNT loads, unloads, and warehouses products such as steel, raw iron castings, pipe sucker rods for fracking, aggregate sand, ethanol, corn, lumber, and liquid chemicals. Mike and his team at CNT will soon construct a fence around the perimeter of the property and a front office/security post. This will take Mike one step closer to applying to be a subzone of Kawasaki's Foreign Trade Zone in Lincoln. As a subzone of an FTZ, CNT will function as a port of entry into the United States, thus enhancing Grand Island businesses' ability to send, receive, and compete on a global scale.

Central Nebraska Transload is in step with that of the Grow Grand Island initiatives 1.2 and 5.3. The Grand Island Area Economic Development Corporation lauds Mike for his entrepreneurial spirit, innovative business practices, and vision for the future of Grand Island.