In a rural community, when the agricultural economy is good it is good for the whole area, and in York, Nebraska, the mayor says their city has prospered very well.
“In addition to having numerous ag industries and some independent of ag, York has businesses that serve the traveling public through here on the Interstate 80 and US Highway 81 corridor,” said Barry Redfern, York Mayor and market president at York Midwest Bank.
York has 1,000 hotel rooms and five strong banks, he said, and businesses that provide a strong sales tax for them. York’s unemployment rate is under 1%, so everybody could use more employees, Redfern said.
“People are trying to make their business grow successful, and when you can’t find more people, that affects their business model,” Redfern said.
The 2020 census counts the population at 8,047 for York, the county seat of York County.
If you ask the Director of the York Chamber of Commerce how things are going, the answer is: “Things are going great in York” with new start-ups happening regularly.
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Director Madonna Mogul says community involvement, private investment and grant dollars helped propel York’s nearly $ 2 million dollar downtown revitalization. The chamber has supported the city since 2016. The last phase of the project has been funded for $ 435,000 in grants. The money goes to repair façades, awnings and signage.
“Many of our downtown storefronts had ‘steel skin,’ and we’re pulling it off to reveal a brick or stone underneath,” Mogul said.
Expected completion is September 2024.
Then, there is agribusiness. There are three seed corn production facilities and an ethanol facility called Green Plains, along with cold storage and ample warehousing.
“It’s just a fun community to work in because there are so many opportunities,” said Lisa Hurley, executive director of the York County Development Corporation.
York’s ag economy is massive. There:
- Green Plains Energy (ethanol), headquartered in Omaha
- Headquarters for Central Valley Ag, one of the largest, locally owned US cooperatives
- A Farmer’s Cooperative Location
- Aurora Cooperative
- PT USA-York (owned by ICM Investments), which provides livestock feed and nutrition services
- Corteva has two processing facilities
- Bayer’s seed corn facility is nearby
- Headquarters for the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District
- York Equipment
- York Farm Supply
- McLean Beef, corn fed Nebraska beef with a retail storefront near Interstate 80
- Agri-Products Inc.
- Scott Hourigan Inc.
- Kroy Industries
- Nutrition Services
- Collins Aerospace
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service:
- In 2017, there were 521 farms with just over 346,602 acres of land. The average farm size was 665 acres.
- The county ranks 202 out of 3,077 counties in the US for total market value of agricultural products sold, ranking it in the top 10% of US counties.
- The top crops by acreage are corn (202,988) and soybeans (108,413).
Many businesses in York County have grown with assistance from York County Economic Development Corporation. Hurley is thrilled that Preferred Popcorn recently opened in nearby Waco with ready-to-eat popcorn.
All that comes from modest beginnings.
York began, as a rest stop, with a nearby ranch that carried basic supplies, and offered a couple of beds and water.
“People traveled on stagecoach and covered wagons, stayed overnight, replenished supplies,” said Bob Sautter, executive director of York County Visitors Bureau. “They’d change horses and get everybody watered up.”
Now 150 years later, the town and county mark a milestone, during the pandemic.
Also just last year, York Boot ‘n Repair celebrated its 100th anniversary. Owned by three members of the Garner family, the store was purchased in 1999 by current York County Commission Chairman Randy Obermier and his wife Tammy.
In addition to shoe repair, the shop now offers orthotics, awnings, and repairs just about anything else that comes through the door, according to Randy.
“The one constant over time is support from our local and regional agricultural communities,” he said.
In mid-July, York hosts Balloon Days and downtown sidewalk sales. York County Development Corporation caps off its Entrepreneur Camp during the sale when student businesses sell products they produce and market during camp.
This weekend Labor Day welcomes folks to Yorkfest, a four-day community celebration. The chamber holds a parade with 100 entries and a dozen marching bands.
Famous people from York include a founding member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fred Niblo. Born in York, Niblo moved with family to New York City as a child.
“Fred worked as a janitor at Niblo Gardens in New York City, and ended up being one of the top silent film directors in the country. He directed the ‘Three Musketeers,’ and the original ‘Ben Hur,’ “Sautter said.
The inventor of the Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing in 1954 was Steven Henson and his wife, Gayle, of York County, Nebraska.
Other famous people from York include David Erb, a jockey who won the 1956 Kentucky Derby; Loyd Jones, inventor with the Eastman Kodak Co .; And Sam Koch, a punter for the Baltimore Ravens.
The world’s largest private collection of 1 million playing marbles is located inside Lee’s Marble Museum in York, just north of I-80 and US Highway 81.
York College is home to the Clayton Museum of Ancient History with an extensive collection of Roman artifacts.
Reporter Amy Hadachek is a two-time Emmy Award-winning meteorologist and a storm chaser who earned her approval of the NWA and AMS Broadcast Meteorology Seals. She and her husband live on a diversified farm in Kansas. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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