BEATRICE – Surveys will be going out in the next couple of weeks as part of an updated housing study in Beatrice and Gage County.
NGage Executive Director Walker Zulkoski says surveys will focus on two sectors....citizens and manufacturing officials.


Zulkoski responded yesterday to citizen complaints recently that the area is losing a lot of business, with the closing of some higher profile restaurants or retailers.
"There's just a lot of net business gain...I think there's been some folks have been a little upset with some of the circumstances with companies closing or businesses shutting. I don't think it's our economy at all...it's just some people can't pay their bills, it's a family issue or whatever it is...our economy is very strong, the manufacturing economy is really strong. But, in terms of net businesses, there are some gains".


Gage County Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says notable closings tend to draw more than their share of public attention. "What I hear the most is why are all the businesses closing. It's easy, anytime there's something negative, bad news spreads quick and people talk about that. There are businesses opening. Hopefully, on the east side of town we'll see some more action in the next year".


Two major east Beatrice retailers closed this summer……the Shopko Hometown Store and Earl May Nursery and Garden Center.


Zulkoski says some of the smaller businesses that start up likely do so, with less fanfare. "Downtown is only escalating.....it's getting better and better".
Two concerns expressed by county officials at a meeting yesterday included progress on the former Store Kraft property and cleanup of that area….and the amount of traffic the community sees leaving each day, for jobs elsewhere. Zulkoski says the housing study is partly aimed at finding out that answer.


"..where they live, where they are commuting from, how far they're commuting from, what do they live in now and how much are they making? How much can they afford, how much do they want to be able to afford? We're asking that question."


The head of Gage Area Growth Enterprise also said the process is underway to receive approval for another five years as a certified economic development community, through a State of Nebraska program.