Behind the scenes work generated key results for the Greater Fremont Development Council in 2011.
"This last year was a busy year, but progress has been made, some of it visible, much of it is not," outgoing president Steve Hull said Wednesday during GFDC's annual membership meeting at the Fremont Golf Club.
"Much of the visible progress this year is a result of the not-so-visible progress of previous years," Hull said.
GFDC's fingerprints were on major expansions at Natura Pet Products, Hormel and other industries; and the opening of Hero Automotive and the Nebraska Health and Human Services call center.
High on the list of achievements, though, is a project people will start seeing more visibly - the Fremont Technology Park.
The City of Fremont received a $982,892 grant from the Department of Economic Development last spring, then purchased and annexed the 81.2-acre site east of Yager Road and south of 32nd Street.
Since then, Great Plains Communications and American Broadband began running fiber optic lines to the park, and a site master plan was started. A timeline was put in place for infrastructure, road construction and other facets. The geotechnical team will be on the site Monday.
"What American Broadband and Great Plains are doing is extending their fiber down into the businesses area," GFDC Executive Director Pat Langan said. That was a goal of the Fremont Technology Professionals, a group of local information technology experts formed by GFDC.
"This is such strong bandwidth and fiber, they're willing to come down and eventually create a loop through the city for other businesses like the banks, the schools, and the city. They're talking to a lot of businesses that are very receptive," Langan said.
Fremont Area Medical Center, for example, will benefit from access to a larger medical information network.
"A year or two ago, if a business would have come here and realized we had limited fiber, they would eventually have had to build that expensive fiber all the way to their location. We've come a long way in just the last year," Langan said.
Interest from potential tenants has picked up and Langan anticipates even more activity when the site plan is finished, probably around July.
"With those things taking shape, prospects can now actually make plans. They have to start their process fairly early, but with a timeline and a site master plan, they have lots of information to work with," Langan said.
People are likely to see a berm built on the east side of the site soon to buffer a residential area.
"The site is unique in that it has ag to the north, residential to the east, retail and others to the south, and to the west are nice offices and medical parks. It's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be exciting how we tie that all together," Langan said.
GFDC launched a new web site to promote the technology park and attract other businesses and expansions.
"It's good for site consultants, but it's also good for existing businesses. They can check out what buildings and sites are available," he said.
Langan said he is working with the Omaha Economic Development Partnership to enhance the relationship between the two cities in economic development efforts.
"They don't have good rail sites left down there, so companies that need rail are the kinds of projects they would send to us," he explained.
"For businesses in Omaha looking to expand, a lot of times they can come here and it's less expensive for them, but they're still in the main service area of Omaha. That makes Fremont very attractive," he said.
A seven-year, $1 billion Union Pacific upgrade across the state will provide further development opportunities for Fremont, Langan said.
Work has begun on improvements to double track the route between Fremont and Missouri Valley, Iowa.
"It helps existing businesses that are on rail now, and it opens opportunities to expand off of rails so we have more traffic," Langan said.
"There are areas that would be really good real estate right off that expanded track to have another spur and have industries there," he said.