Midlands Business Journal June 18, 2021 Vol. 47 No. 25 issue

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Midlands Business Journal • JUNE 18, 2021 •



GROWTH REPORT A section prepared by the staff of the Midlands Business Journal • June 18, 2021

Sarpy County economy boosted by large projects by Gabby Hellbusch

Sarpy County is growing at a rapid pace with projects set to boost the economy well into the future. Andrew Rainbolt, executive director at Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation, said the Sarpy economy continued its prolonged economic expansion even through the uncertainty of 2020. Rainbolt said building permit valuations were down a bit from 2019, but that was due more to the timing of project starts rather than a pullback in the economy. “Large projects like Amazon, Facebook and Google have huge impacts on our construction market, but light industrial, car dealership and public school developments dominated the list of projects in 2020,” he said. Additionally, the LaMontagne intersection of Highway 50 and 370 is about to become a major employment with the addition of an Amazon sortation center, which will employ 1,000 people. “Immediately east of that site, the former ShopKo distribution center is now Papillion Foods, a division of Hormel,” Rainbolt said. “Papillion Foods is set to employ more people than ShopKo at higher wages and could potentially employ many more as they build out the property.” This year, Google announced spending another $500 million on its Papillion data center and Facebook announced its expansion into Springfield along with 100 more jobs. “To help serve this expansion, the Sarpy County and Sarpy Cities Sewer Agency started design on a major sewer expansion that when complete will open up the southern half of Sarpy County to development,” he said. “The importance of this project can’t be understated if we want to continue our current pace of growth.” Jeff LaMontagne, project manager at E&A Consulting Group, said the firm is currently working on the development of a mixed-use site in the northwest corner of Highway 370 and 84th Street in Papillion. Once approved, the site will be named “The Tower District” and will include single family homes, town homes, apartments, office space, retail, trails, park areas and green space. “The name for the development is fitting,

as the existing Papillion water tower sits in the middle of the site on the south edge of the property and can be seen from miles around Papillion, a very iconic feature of the area,” he said. “The city of Papillion is currently approving funding to repaint the water tower in the next few years.” LaMontagne said the new development will have two access points from 84th Street, and three access points from 90th Street. Additionally, the new development will provide a connection to the existing Harrison Street to the north. “The 90th Street corridor will be improved as part of the project,” he said. “Additional right of way will allow for the road to be widened and drainage improvements will be designed along the corridor. The community will be able to Gay enjoy the park, trails and green space areas.” Tonee Gay, executive director at Midlands Community Foundation located in Sarpy County, said “investing in the power of community” is at the heart of everything MCF does. “As our community faced unprecedented challenges this past fiscal year due to the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis, we centered ourselves to help find partnerships, hope and inspiration through these troubling times,” Gay said. “As a result, we created the MCF Coronavirus Response Fund, which financially supported more than 30 nonprofit organizations providing critical services to our community.” She said MCF is committed to building more programs, projects and initiatives to resolve and lead to positive change, strengthening Sarpy County. “Through our biannual grants program, we remain solid in our commitment to serve the many nonprofit organizations facing an increase in demand for their services to Sarpy County,” Gay said. “The community and economic need was apparent during our spring grant program when we received a record number of requests and distributed our highest number of grants. Despite these trying times, our community and donors continued to maintain their philanthropic giving. MCF will be on the forefront and help respond to the needs in Sarpy County.”

Andrew Rainbolt, executive director of the Sarpy County Economic Development Corp. at the intersection of 153rd Street and Gold Coast Road, overlooking the Google campus. (Photo by Roger Humphries)

Sarpy County Growth Report — inside JUNE 18, 2021




VOL. 47 NO. 25

Crown Trophy sustains 25 years with popular sports by Richard D. Brown

Midwest Matchmaking makes finding love convenient for locals. – Page 2


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Ellenberger turns homecoming into thriving career at Lockwood Development. – Page 4

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Lincoln financial institutions adapt to accommodate changing times. – Page 25

Over the past 25 years Crown Trophy’s northwest Omaha retail store has grown by putting an emphasis on creating innovative awards for athletic teams and corporate recognition programs. As the popularity of soccer has grown, so has fantasy football, which owners Robert C. Blanchard and Robert Berry IV credit with helping the business reach the point where it can bring full-color production work in-house. Crown Trophy, which has doubled its space to 4,800 square feet at 3040 N. 90th St., has been farming out specialized full-color production work. Investment of up to $5,000 in the next year will enable the firm to reach an important goal. “We want to become a one-stop shop and cut out the middleman,” said Berry. He is now COO of the business that he joined as a part-time employee in the late ‘90s. Berry said athletic teams account for about 45% of the Continued on page 23.

Owner Rob Berry is making investments in the business to be a one-stop shop for recognition products. (Photo by Monica Sempek)

Giles to lead Women’s Fund in next phase to drive policy and advocacy by Michelle Leach

Since its inception in 1990, the Women’s Fund of Omaha has spurred $35 million-plus in grants to support local agencies and programs that address gender-based inequities. More recently, the nonprofit has made public policy and advocacy inroads in areas such as violence against girls and women, which represent traction that Jo Giles plans to build upon in her new role as executive director.

“Every leader has a defining style and imprint on an organization and sees the world based on their lived experience,” Giles said. “The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted women, especially women of color, in the workplace. “Our next phase could explore ways to lead and influence policies and practices that give working women and parents the Continued on page 23. Founder and CEO Raechel Van Buskirk and husband Zach aim to make deviled eggs a year-round staple. (Photo by Monica Sempek)

Deviled Egg Company aims for wider distribution of products by Brooke Strickland

New Executive Director Jo Giles seeking opportunities for nonprofit to lead policies that lift women. (Courtesy of Women’s Fund)

Raechel Van Buskirk’s business, Deviled Egg Co., has been serving up wickedly delicious deviled eggs since 2017. The founder and CEO of the company originally started the business to provide snacks for patrons at a lounge she managed, and it wasn’t long before people fell in love with the products. Today, she and her husband Zach operate the

company and in September 2020, two investors joined the business — Gordon Whitten and I See It Ventures. Their goal: expand the company’s growth and take it to new heights. “After a lot of research, it was apparent that we had stumbled upon an amazing and very unique concept that no one in the nation had yet to capitalize on,” Van Continued on page 24.

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