Photo by Jay Huff
Michelle Stephens will get a $30,000 start-up grant for a new business in North Platte, following action Tuesday by the North Platte City Council. Stephens is the owner of People Oriented Planning, a business "incubator" where people can find phones, computers, office equipment and connectivity with other business people. POP will also provide workspace for traveling business people.
POP is opening at 115 W. Fourth, across the street from the North Platte Public Library.
Stephens also plans to operate her other business there – coordinating contracts for long-range development plans for towns and cities of the world.
A citizen’s review committee looked at Stephens’ plans and recommended the grant, and at the council meeting, Stephens made an hour-long presentation.
After some discussion, the council voted 7-1 to give POP $30,700 from the city’s “quality growth fund” – money that is dedicated to economic development.
Councilman Jim Carman objected. He said the grant “appears to be just an influx of cash flow for a small business” and noted that many North Platte businesses have started on meager means, worked hard and succeeded without taxpayer money.
But Councilman Andrew Lee said it is a good idea for North Platte. Councilman Tim Barrett agreed. Councilman Glenn Petersen said the grant amounts to only one-tenth of 1 percent of the money in the quality growth fund. He considers it a bargain that is well worth trying.
The council stipulated that Stephens must repay the money if her business fails. If the failure occurs within the first two years, 60 percent of the grant would have to be repaid. After three years, the repayment would be 40 percent and after four years, 20 percent.
If POP lasts beyond the fourth year, no repayment is required.
Bulletin editor George Lauby contributed to this report.