The Fremont City Council approved a total of $700,000 worth of forgivable economic development loans to WLG Fremont for the construction of RTG Medical’s planned $16M headquarters within the Gallery 23 East development on Tuesday.
The council unanimously approved a $600,000 LB840 forgivable loan and a $100,000 Economic Enhancement forgivable loan to WLG Fremont—which is a partnership between DANA Partnership, LLP and RTG Medical. Both resolutions were passed by 7-0 votes as Councilmember Mark Legband had to leave the meeting early due to an illness.
The loans are tied to a proposal by WLG Fremont to construct a 54,000 square foot building at Gallery 23 East—just east the U.S. Highway 30 and U.S. Highway 275 interchange—which would be the local medical staffing company’s new headquarters.
“They (RTG) have approximately 80 employees and are currently unable to expand their workforce in their 12,000 square foot location,” City Grant Coordinator Lottie Mitchell said at the meeting. “This will give RTG plenty of room to expand their workforce.”
Both loans are forgivable over a 60-month period, contingent upon RTG Medical creating 50 jobs, maintaining a lease at the facility, and ownership interest in WLG Fremont over that time period.
Mitchell stressed that LB840 and Economic Enhancement loans for the purpose of economic development, expanding the labor market, creating economic diversification, retaining existing jobs, and creating new jobs in the community.
“We have heard citizens of Fremont say that we want office jobs—we want jobs that are not manual labor—we want jobs that are not ag-based,” she said. “We want office type jobs that are well salaried and well benefitted and before us we have at least 50 more of those jobs for our community.”
Along with receiving unanimous approval from the council, the LB840 loan was recommended by the Local Option Review Team and Citizen Advisory Review Committee and the Economic Enhancement loan was recommended by the Utilities and Infrastructure Board.
The loan applications also received support from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development by way of a letter from Director Dave Rippe as well as vocal support from the directors of the Greater Fremont Development Council and Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce.
During the meeting, Jay Kline of WLG Fremont spoke about RTG Medical’s need to expand its workforce to continue its growth within the medical staffing industry—and what the new RTG facility could mean for future investment in Fremont.
“The medical staffing industry is extremely competitive and the attraction and retention of human capital is critical to their current and future success,” he said. “This new facility will be a significant catalyst to attract and retain the very best, which will, in turn, be a significant economic boost to the city of Fremont and will attract similar types of investments in the future.”
According to Mitchell, RTG Medical’s employees receive an average annual salary of more than $85,000 per year plus benefits which plays into the reasoning behind making the loan forgivable if all the job creation contingencies are met.
“We look at the number of jobs, salaries, benefits, economic impact and whether or not the project will continue on if it’s repayable or if it’s forgivable,” she said. “In this case, it needs to be forgivable and we support it because the salaries are $85,000 plus and well benefited and this is a huge economic boost for our community.”
Several council members also cited the salary level and quality of jobs offered by RTG Medical in their support of the loan applications.
“I know people who work at RTG and it blows my mind how well they are treated, there are a lot of great benefits and they really go above and beyond,” Councilmember Matt Bechtel said. “Some of the things they do for their employees you don’t even hear about in places like Silicon Valley—let alone Fremont.”
Councilmember Mark Jensen also provided vocal support for the loans and RTG facility project.
“It’s important to me that we look at LB840 and other tax money and scrutinize it carefully and make sure the expenditures are truly in the best interest of our community—I feel this project meets and exceeds those criteria,” he said. “RTG has been an established business and employer here in our community and their investment in this project is going to be very substantial.”