Champion for Essential Air Service
(1990-93 and 1996-97)
Governor Ben Nelson was very good to McCook. In his first month as Governor he listened to concerns of local officials about how small towns were doing. He listened and gave small towns a chance to land businesses with a helping hand from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
After it was decided that the new state prison would be built in a small town in eastern Nebraska, even though McCook had the highest overall score to locate the prison here, Governor Nelson proposed the Work Ethic Camp be constructed in McCook.
Without Governor Nelson, the Valmont Industries plant would not be located in McCook. He knew the company's Chief Executive Officer and helped persuade him to look inside Nebraska for expansion of Valmont.
Other states and sites were considered, but with the aid of Governor Nelson, the state incentive package and local tax incentive funding, Valmont decided McCook was the best place for their expansion. Without Ben Nelson, Valmont and the Work Ethic Camp would not be here.
After two years out of public office, Ben came back as U.S. Senator Nelson. He steered federal money into the old Keystone Hotel and inserted provisions into the storm water runoff rules to exempt smaller communities (of less than 10,000 population) from the impact of these rules. He was McCook's and America's champion for Essential Air Service.
Ben set up the Nelson Institute to help local young people go to McCook Community College and support them with scholarships to get an education. He continues to be one of our favorite sons and one of the bright lights in Nebraska.